Jail for interior designer who pocketed over $130k from employer, customers

SINGAPORE - An interior designer pocketed more than $90,000 in deposits paid to his company, then, after being sacked, cheated home owners out of over $43,000 by promising them renovation works which he did not fulfil.

Chua Min Sern, 39, was jailed for two years and three months on Thursday (Jan 31).

He pleaded guilty last month to one count of criminal breach of trust and nine cheating charges.

Nineteen other cheating charges were considered during sentencing.

He committed these offences from 2017 until last year.

Chua was employed by HKlassic Interior Design in 2014 and his job scope included collecting deposits from its customers.

The court heard that he was sacked on Sept 21, 2017, and the company's director lodged a police report four days later, stating that Chua had failed to hand over more than $90,000 in deposits for renovation works.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Weiming said that Chua later used the cash for his personal expenses and had not made any restitution to HKlassic Interior Design.

Later that month, a home owner received a text message from Chua who claimed to be working for a company called Reno-hub Interior, asking if he was interested in some renovation works.

Chua went to the man's home on Oct 21, 2017, and went through the renovation plan.

The home owner decided to hire him and handed over $2,000 in cash as a deposit.

DPP Tan said: "After the payment, the accused did not start the renovation for the complainant at all and refused to refund the complainant.

"In fact, the accused had no intention of commencing any renovation works right from the outset."

The home owner lodged a police report three days later.

Chua also posted ads onto online marketplace Carousell, claiming to offer home renovation services.

Using a similar method, Chua cheated at least six other people who had decided to engage his services. He has made no restitution to them.

For criminal breach of trust, he could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.

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