Chicken rice seller lied that he was authorised to collect rental from tenants

SINGAPORE - When a man he met while selling chicken rice was sick, Hui Seng Hong sent him to hospital.

But while the man was there, Hui approached his flat tenants and cheated one of them into handing him $800, saying he had been authorised to collect rent.

Hui, 57, was sentenced to one month's jail on Wednesday (Aug 10) after he pleaded guilty to a cheating charge.

Mr So Tak Hing, the man whose tenant Hui got the money from, died on Aug 26, 2019, due to prostate cancer.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Heershan Kaur told the court that Mr So met Hui when the latter was selling chicken rice in Hougang, and they spoke to each other occasionally.

In December 2018, Hui picked Mr So up from the airport and accompanied him home in a taxi. Mr So was returning from Thailand and was unwell.

While Mr So was in his room, Hui gathered the man's four tenants - three Chinese nationals and one Singaporean - in the living room and told them that Mr So was unwell. He added that Mr So had asked him to collect rental from them.

After the tenants, who were aged between 46 and 59, told Hui they did not have the cash with them, he said he would collect it the next day.

He took Mr So's keys without his knowledge, intending to enter the unit when the man was not at home.

The pair met at the hawker centre the next day. After Mr So told Hui he was not feeling well, Hui accompanied him home and called for an ambulance.

After Mr So was taken to Sengkang General Hospital, Hui waited for the tenants to return from work.

When they came back, Hui again lied to one of them - Mr Tan Liang Poh, 59 - that he was authorised by Mr So to collect rental.

Mr Tan, who has also since died, had been renting a room for about a year, and was supposed to pay $200 a month.

"The accused also showed the tenants a photograph of (Mr So) on a hospital bed," said DPP Kaur.

As Mr Tan owed two months of rent, he handed over $400.

In the next two months, Hui also collected rent from Mr Tan.

On March 24, 2019, Mr So was discharged from hospital and found out four days later that Hui had collected rental fees.

When Hui did not pick up his calls, a police report was filed.

DPP Kaur, who asked for a jail sentence of six to eight weeks, said the offence was premeditated and that Hui took advantage of the complainant's vulnerability.

Hui paid restitution to Mr Tan's next of kin on Aug 8 this year.

For cheating, Hui could have been jailed for up to three years, fined or both.

Correction note: An earlier version of this article said Hui paid restitution to Mr So's next of kin, when in fact he had paid it to Mr Tan's next of kin. This has been corrected. We are sorry for the error.

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