75-year-old serial cheat jailed for duping friend of $647k

Lim Siew Har was sentenced to four years and nine months in jail on Wednesday. She has made no restitution.
Lim Siew Har was sentenced to four years and nine months in jail on Wednesday. She has made no restitution.

A 75-year-old woman - convicted at least twice before for cheating - was sentenced to jail again for a similar crime on Wednesday.

Lim Siew Har was sentenced to four years and nine months in jail after cheating a friend, housewife Leow Boon Tee, of $646,900. She committed the offences between January and October 2011.

At the sentencing, District Judge Lorraine Ho said: "I must say that it gives me a heavy heart to sentence someone to a term of imprisonment at the age of 75, when she could be spending her twilight years more fruitfully with her family members.

"Unfortunately, the accused brought this upon herself, having not learnt from her past string of antecedents."

Lim was first convicted of cheating in 1981, and was last sentenced for similar crimes in November 2003.

In the latest case, Deputy Public Prosecutor Stacey Anne Fernandez said that Madam Leow, 69, had trusted Lim, who was her younger brother's long-term partner.

The two women often cooked together and during one of the cooking sessions, Lim lied to Madam Leow, claiming that one of her cousins had asked her to find people interested in operating a Singapore Pools outlet.

Madam Leow rejected the offer at first as she was not familiar with betting-related matters.

However, Lim kept persuading her to take up the offer, stating she had operated Singapore Pools outlets, and that "it was very easy to do".

She also told Madam Leow that she could help her. Convinced, the victim decided to try ope-rating them. However, Lim was not involved in any such outlet.

DPP Fernandez said: "In 2011, Singapore Pools neither invited applications from members of the public, nor engaged persons to source for outlets and process applications for members of the public."

Lim later deceived Madam Leow into believing that she needed to pay her various amounts of money to supposedly operate six 4-D outlets with Singapore Pools.

Lim admitted her offences to Madam Leow only in March 2012, after her victim confronted her. Lim has made no restitution, the court heard.

On Wednesday, the judge said that this case could serve as a "cautionary note".

She added: "Being the licensee of a Singapore Pools outlet is akin to having the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs, where returns are most certainly guaranteed. One should never throw caution to the wind and let one's guard down in exchange for a windfall."

Lim intends to appeal against the judge's decisions, and was offered bail of $70,000. For each count of cheating, she could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2017, with the headline '75-year-old serial cheat jailed for duping friend of $647k'. Print Edition | Subscribe