SINGAPORE - A front desk executive at a radiology clinic cheated 23 people of nearly $1,500 after duping them into believing that she had face masks to sell amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Eunice Anico Liwanag, 24, was sentenced on Tuesday (June 2) to eight weeks' jail and a fine of $3,000.
The Singapore permanent resident pleaded guilty to one count of lodging a false police report and three cheating charges involving three people who had transferred $405 in total.
Twenty other cheating charges linked to the remaining amount were considered during sentencing. She committed the offences between Jan 28 and Feb 1.
On Jan 30, she received a chat notification from one of her victims, Mr Liew Chen Wee, 39, through her account on online marketplace Carousell, asking if she had face masks for sale.
In response, Liwanag lied to the Malaysian man, claiming she had some available, even though she had none.
He then placed an order for six boxes of face masks worth $150 in total and was told to transfer the cash to her bank account. Mr Liew complied but did not receive the goods as promised.
Liwanag used a similar method to cheat the other victims, the court heard.
In an attempt to cover her tracks, she lodged an electronic police report on Feb 1, stating that she had detected "unusual money transfers" into her bank account.
When Assistant Superintendent Wilfred Lam Wei Lun contacted her, Liwanag claimed that she had provided her account number only for online shopping.
On Tuesday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Matthew Choo said Liwanag had lied to the police so that officers would not suspect that she was a scammer on Carousell.
He added: "The accused was scared after cheating the 23 victims... and knew that she had committed an offence. Thus, she had made the false police report to divert attention and suspicion away from herself."
The DPP said that between late January and early February, police received 23 reports of e-commerce scams involving the sale of face masks on Carousell.
He told District Judge Prem Raj: "The accused had one Carousell account but had changed her user name thrice to avoid detection."
Following an investigation, officers arrested Liwanag on Feb 3.
Before handing down the sentence, the judge said that she had exploited her victims who wanted face masks during the Covid-19 outbreak.
He also noted that she had been "gainfully employed" when she duped her victims. The court heard that she has made full restitution to them.
For each count of cheating, she could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.
Correction note: An earlier version of this story stated that the accused was a radiologist. The Attorney-General's Chambers has since clarified that she was a front desk executive at a radiology clinic.