SINGAPORE - A 50-year-old fortune teller and temple medium who duped three victims of $40,500 in cash and $8,890 in jewellery was jailed for 20 months on Tuesday (March 22).
Soh Kok Ping pleaded guilty to a charge of cheating and two counts of criminal breach of trust. He admitted to a fourth similar charge.
A district court heard that Soh worked at a make-shift fortune teller stall at Block 102 Yishun Avenue 5 and at an unregistered in-house temple at Block 407 Fajar Road.
In June 2013, he was entrusted with gold jewellery by a 61-year-old woman, who wanted him to find out the value of the items for her.
She had earlier paid Soh to pray for her husband who had a stroke, and trusted the medium as she felt that her husband had gotten better.
But Soh pawned the jewellery and spent the $8,890 he got on his housing expenses and on gambling.
The next month, after the elderly woman's husband died, Soh asked her to invest in Jia Jia Shui Confectionery, located at Block 201D Tampines Street 21, which was owned by his friend, Mr Yap Kah Teck.
She gave Soh $30,000, but he never passed Mr Yap any money.
In May 2013, Soh also cheated a 50-year-old woman of $10,000. He said God had told him to instruct her to donate rice to the needy to ward off bad luck. Soh told her the rice would be distributed to the needy at a temple event at the end of the year. But he never bought rice for the poor with the money.
In September that year, he also tricked a 56-year-old woman into giving him $500, using a ruse that he was collecting donations to buy food for the poor.
The maximum penalty for criminal breach of trust is seven years' jail and a fine. The maximum punishment for cheating and dishonestly inducing a person to deliver property is 10 years' jail and a fine.