Jail for mastermind of $1.8m renovation scam

Husniyati Omar, who reoffended while on bail, was jailed for seven years and nine months yesterday.
Husniyati Omar, who reoffended while on bail, was jailed for seven years and nine months yesterday.

A con artist returned to a life of crime just a month after her release from prison, and later masterminded a renovation scam involving nearly $1.8 million.

Husniyati Omar, 41 - a mother of seven children aged three to 19 - cheated home owners and sub-contractors by failing to honour agreements. The Singaporean was jailed for seven years and nine months yesterday after pleading guilty last month to 20 cheating charges and one count of criminal breach of trust. These 21 charges involved almost $770,000.

Another 126 charges for similar offences involving the remaining amount were taken into consideration during sentencing.

The court heard that Husniyati was sentenced to four months in jail in 2015 after admitting to cheating offences.

Following her release in August that year, she misappropriated $68,260 from her employer, home renovation company Elegance Concept, between September and December 2015.

She left the firm in January 2016. After that, she cheated 89 home owners and subcontractors out of nearly $1.8 million.

In early 2016, Husniyati asked her friend Christina Wong Hoi Khay, 22, to be the sole director and shareholder of a renovation firm called Carpentry Design Works. She promised to give Ms Wong $3,000 every month.

But the company and its bank accounts were at all times controlled by Husniyati and her husband Aszrul Yusoff, 37, the court heard.

  • 20

  • Number of cheating charges.

    1

    Count of criminal breach of trust.

    $770k

    The amount the 21 charges involved.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Ti-Ting told District Judge Edgar Foo that the couple promised home owners and prospective customers that the company was able to complete renovation works within specific deadlines.

However, Husniyati never had the intention of ensuring that Carpentry Design Works would honour the agreements or complete the renovation works.

Husniyati also duped subcontractors into believing that she would pay them for work they had done. However, she had no intention of paying them.

One subcontractor, engaged to carry out flooring work, alerted the police on April 13 last year, and Husniyati was arrested.

 
 

While out on bail, Husniyati asked a former employee of Carpentry Design Works, Mr Mohammad Khairuldin Abdullah, 32, to set up another renovation firm, Chanteq Flooring Specialist, through which she continued to commit cheating offences with a similar modus operandi.

Judge Foo noted that large sums of money were involved in Husniyati's current cases and she had made no restitution.

He also highlighted that she had reoffended while out on bail.

The case involving Aszrul is still pending.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2018, with the headline 'Jail for mastermind of $1.8m renovation scam'. Print Edition | Subscribe