Conman cheated elderly victims of nearly $270k, after they had already lost money in failed investments

SINGAPORE - The senior citizens had already lost money in earlier failed investments and were looking for help to recover their cash.

But Shafie Osman, 38, conspired to cheat the elderly victims by convincing them to hand over even more cash as "fees" to get their investments back.

As part of the ruse, they were shown forged documents purportedly issued by banks, the Supreme Court and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

The court heard that Shafie and his accomplices "sought to create the illusion of governmental authority in order to cloak their misrepresentations with a veneer of credibility".

As a result of the scam, 10 senior citizens were cheated of nearly $270,000 in total. Some of the victims were low-income workers, earning less than $2,000 a month, and included a cleaner and a machine operator.

On Tuesday (Oct 8), Shafie was sentenced to four years' jail after he pleaded guilty to six cheating charges involving more than $240,000.

Another three charges related to the remaining amount were considered during sentencing.

Two of his accomplices - Annie Sahlawaty Mohd Salleh, 46, and Nur Khairunnisa Mohd Ridzwan, 32 - were dealt with in court earlier.

Nur Khairunnisa was sentenced to two years' jail and Annie Sahlawaty received 6½ years of corrective training (CT), a penalty meted out to repeat offenders who are not eligible for the usual one-third remission for good behaviour.

The court heard that Annie has a history of committing property-related offences.

The case involving a third alleged accomplice - Noorfauziah Yusof, 40 - is still pending.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Eric Hu said that Shafie and the three women had conspired between April and August 2015 to cheat their victims.

The senior citizens had previously invested in companies, including one called Desa Amanah, but failed to receive dividends due to them or have their invested monies returned.

The DPP added that Shafie and Noorfauziah used to work for the firm. As such, they had access to information about the victims' previous investments.

DPP Hu told District Judge Samuel Chua: "Consequently, they were able to equip the team with information which helped them to deceive the victims. Having dealt with the victims, they were able to tell the rest of the team how much each victim could pay and whether the victim was easy to deceive."

Court documents stated that the pair then arranged for the senior citizens meet their other accomplices, on the pretext that the victims would be able to recover the monies they had lost through their earlier investments.

The accomplices would then pretend to be a lawyer or a court officer before presenting the forged documents to the victims. Each victim then handed over between $6,000 and $114,008 to the scammers.

The senior citizens alerted the police when they did not receive any of the money promised.

The court heard that Shafie received up to 30 per cent of the ill-gotten gains. The scammers have made no restitution to the victims.

For each count of cheating, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.