Man charged with five counts of cheating

A 55-year-old man has been charged with cheating five people of $1,250 by posing as a Housing Board-approved contractor.

Gary Lau allegedly duped his victims into believing that he represented a firm known as Home Patching Contractor, which offers wall patching services.

Yesterday, Lau was charged with five counts of cheating for the alleged offences, which took place between October last year and last month.

The court heard that on Oct 25, Lau was at the home of Ms Monica Chua Ai Ching, who lives in Bedok South Road, and is said to have offered to patch her walls for $500. Ms Chua gave him $150 as a deposit, according to court documents.

Lau then allegedly used the same ruse to cheat four other HDB residents living in areas such as Ubi Avenue 1 and Lorong 3 Geylang.

A police statement on Tuesday said the police had received reports about the cheating cases between March last year and last month.

"Preliminary investigations revealed that the man was neither authorised nor appointed by HDB for such works, and had cheated more than 19 victims," the statement said.

Court papers did not give details about the other 14 people.

Following an investigation, officers from Bedok Police Division arrested Lau on Monday.

The case first came to light last month when citizen journalism website Stomp reported about a middle-aged man who had gone to a Toa Payoh Central flat to offer "repair works".

A 72-year-old resident, known only as Vernon, told Stomp that after he declined the services, the man approached his 76-year-old neighbour. When Vernon tried to intervene, the man allegedly punched him.

The police statement urged residents to be wary of people posing as HDB-appointed contractors or as officers from government agencies.

"They (residents) should always ask for verification details such as official staff passes from the agency or company, and if in doubt, call the agency or company to seek further verification," the statement added.

Lau is remanded at Bedok Police Division and will be back in court on next Wednesday.

Offenders convicted of cheating can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined on each charge.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2019, with the headline 'Man charged with five counts of cheating'. Print Edition | Subscribe