Coach who cheated runners of over $100,000 with false tour packages jailed 17 months

Founder of running club F1 Runners Tan Swee Tiong had cheated the club members to feed his gambling addiction.
Founder of running club F1 Runners Tan Swee Tiong had cheated the club members to feed his gambling addiction.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A running coach duped nearly 40 of his athletes of more than $100,000, selling them false tour packages for overseas marathon trips or non-existent Garmin watches.

Tan Swee Tiong, also known as Lexxus Tan, 48, is the founder of popular running club F1 Runners, and had cheated the club members to feed his gambling addiction.

On Thursday (Oct 22), Tan was sentenced to one year and five months' jail after pleading guilty to a charge of cheating, with another taken into consideration during sentencing.

The court heard that the scams happened between February 2017 and June 2018.

Tan earned his income from coaching fees that he collected from members when they signed up for memberships, with the fees ranging from $300 to $1,090.

He later hatched a scheme to organise "runcations", which were overseas trips to take part in marathons, such as to Berlin and Osaka, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Stephanie Chew told the court.

"However, the accused did not intend to fulfil any of his promises, and instead used this ruse to deceive various individuals into transferring monies to him, which he then used for gambling," said DPP Chew.

Tan cheated 39 individuals out of a total of $89,616 with his tour offers.

Separately, he also cheated 10 others of a total of $10,950 into buying non-existent Garmin watches.

DPP Chew said Tan has returned $5,940 of the amount he received.

"The accused admits that he spent the vast majority of the monies... on gambling, specifically on (an) Aegean cruise," said DPP Chew.

The DPP pressed the court to jail Tan for at least 17½ months, noting that he had breached the trust placed in him by various individuals.

"He had founded a relatively popular running club and was clearly trusted as a member of the community," said DPP Chew in her submissions.

Tan's defence counsel, Mr Choo Si Sen, said Tan was remorseful and is a "changed man" who is trying his best to pay back the monies owed.

However, District Judge Jasbendar Kaur noted that Tan had made up plans to encourage his victims to make payment to him.

He will start serving his sentence on Nov 19.