Conman who used investment scams to cheat victims of over $1m gets jail

Sathish Nair Dhanabalan had used various investment scams to cheat a total of nine victims of more than $1 million. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A conman who cheated his neighbour of more than $200,000 over a purported investment with Temasek Holdings was sentenced on Wednesday (Feb 10) to six years and 10 months' jail.

Sathish Nair Dhanabalan, now 36, would convince his neighbour, Mr Elanngovan Pillai Munisamy, 56, to continue investing each time the "high returns from the investment" were due.

As part of the ruse, which took place from 2014 to 2016, Mr Elanngovan even received text messages and calls from a person who claimed to be "Ho Ching".

Sathish had used various investment scams to cheat a total of nine victims of more than $1 million.

In 2017, he used a similar tactic of a purported investment with another company, Barclays Bank, to cheat three other victims - Ms Fadhilah Ibrahim; her husband, Mr Aniz Sirajudin Shaik Abdullah; and her mother, Madam Barakathunisa E.A. Haliyul Rahiman - of more than $400,000.

He later gave excuses when they wanted their money back.

Sathish also forged documents from organisations such as government agencies to show why his victims could not get their money back.

In August 2017, he stole four of his father's cheques and forged the older man's signature on them.

He then issued two of them to Mr Aniz, and one each to Ms Fadhilah and Madam Barakathunisa. Each cheque was for $150,000.

The cheques, however, bounced as there were insufficient funds in the bank account they were linked to.

The court heard that Sathish used similar methods to cheat his other victims.

He pleaded guilty on Wednesday to 20 charges, including eight counts of cheating involving more than $700,000 in total.

Another 41 charges linked to the remaining amount were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Lu Yiwei urged the court to sentence Sathish to six years and 10 months' jail, stressing that he had taken "painstaking steps" to avoid the detection of his crime.

She added: "He perpetuated his ruse so well that the victims were fooled into continuously handing him monies for investments.

"The accused used the identities of real people as the purported senders of the letters to shore up the credibility of the letters."

The court heard that Sathish has given back to his victims about 40 per cent of the amount he had taken.

His bail was set at $50,000 on Wednesday and he will surrender himself at the State Courts on Thursday to begin serving his sentence.

For each count of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

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