Man admits to role in renovation scam

A father of seven absconded in 2015 after being sentenced to jail for six months for a string of offences, including cheating, following his wife's plan to "make quick cash".

Aszrul Mohd Yusoff and Husniyati Omar duped 74 home owners and subcontractors out of more than $1.6 million in a renovation scam.

Husniyati asked a friend to set up an interior design firm on her behalf, offering cheap renovation packages with free air-conditioning units. But the company failed to honour agreements made with customers and contractors.

Yesterday, Aszrul, 39, pleaded guilty to 18 cheating charges involving nearly $652,000. Another 115 counts of cheating linked to the remaining amount will be considered during sentencing.

Aszrul has been in jail since May 2017, serving a six-month sentence for his previous offences before being remanded.

His wife, who masterminded the scam, was jailed for seven years and nine months last September after pleading guilty to 20 cheating charges and one count of criminal breach of trust. Her offences involved nearly $1.8 million in all.

The couple's children are aged between three and 20.

Defence lawyer R. Dilip Kumar told District Judge Edgar Foo that with both parents behind bars, the four youngest children are now in foster care while their older siblings are living with relatives.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Grace Goh said Husniyati asked a friend to set up Carpentry Design Works in 2016, knowing that contracts in such businesses often required substantial upfront payments.

 

She asked Ms Christina Wong Hoi Khay, 24, to be its sole director and shareholder as the couple were undischarged bankrupts. However, the firm and its bank accounts were managed by the couple at all times.

In April 2016, they opened an office and showroom in Telok Kurau Road and another in Yishun Industrial Street 1. A Facebook page for Carpentry was also set up.

However, the couple had no intention to honour the agreements made, said DPP Goh.

The couple also cheated their subcontractors and did not pay for their services. The offences came to light when a sub-contractor alerted the police on April 13, 2017.

DPP Goh urged Judge Foo to sentence Aszrul to at least five years and nine months' jail, stressing that he had made no restitution.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2019, with the headline 'Man admits to role in renovation scam'. Print Edition | Subscribe