SINGAPORE - It was a compelling way to make money - invest in the purchase of some beauty products that will be sold more than double their cost price, and the person gets a monthly dividend based on the investment made.
However, this was but a sham investment scheme that facial therapist Neo Ngou Moy, 62, used to dupe people into coughing up their savings. She also used similar tactics for other types of goods.
On Tuesday (Nov 7), Neo was jailed for 32 months for cheating nine people of $285,825 in multiple investment scams, mainly involving beauty products.
Neo, who was also known as Sally, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of cheating, while 21 other similar charges were considered during sentencing.
From 2011 to last year, she cheated each victim of between $2,625 and $108,200. Most of the charges involved Janssen beauty products.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Victoria Ting said Neo marketed a sham investment to three friends and acquaintances in 2011 and 2012.
She added: "According to Sally, each box of Janssen product could be procured in bulk at $150 from the United States and sold at $350. Victims were promised monthly dividends proportionate to their investments. In fact, Sally had no such investment opportunity, nor any intention of applying these sums towards such products."
The court heard that hairstylist Wong Ah Sen, 59, who first met Neo in August 2011, was cheated of the largest amount of money.
At that time, Neo was running a beauty salon in Potong Pasir and Ms Wong worked at another outlet nearby.
Neo was aware that Ms Wong was then facing financial woes. Despite this, she still cheated the latter by asking her to invest in Janssen products.
She told Ms Wong that for every $1,500 invested, the hairstylist would receive a monthly dividend of $1,000.
DPP Ting said: "Knowing the financial difficulties faced by Wong, Sally further represented that she would assist Wong to invest the initial $1,500 and Wong could repay her after receiving dividend payments."
Ms Wong believed her and delivered a total of $108,200 to Neo between Oct 10, 2011, and Feb 10, 2012.
The court heard that in order to raise these sums for the so-called investments, Ms Wong had to sell her jewellery, while her husband took loans from various banks.
Between Oct 13, 2011, and Jan 10, 2012, Ms Wong received $17,300 in the form of intermittent "dividend payments".
Neo later told her that dividend payments would be "suspended" in early 2012 as the company managing Janssen products was purportedly undergoing an audit.
In March that year, she told Ms Wong that the latter would no longer be receiving payments. Neo became uncontactable after that.
According to court documents, Neo cheated most of her victims by using a similar method.
The police were first alerted to Neo's crimes on April 2, 2012, when one of the victims lodged a report. But Neo continued with her criminal ways, and, in 2014, she told another victim of a so-called investment opportunity - this time involving deer placenta capsules and facial serums.
"Sally intended to use the monies obtained by such deception to repay her debts to unlicensed moneylenders and victims from the sham Janssen investments who had complained against her," said DPP Ting.
Neo has made partial restitution of $32,300. For each count of cheating, she could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.