Man gets 38 months for cheating and forgery; $23k fine for unlicensed property agent work

A former freelance property agent had duped his victims into believing that he had investment opportunities in Perth hotels in Australia. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A former freelance property agent who cheated four victims of a total of $224,240 was sentenced to 38 months' jail on Monday (Feb 20) for cheating and forgery.

Shakir Khan, 56, an undischarged bankrupt, was also fined a total of $23,000 or 11 weeks' jail in default for unlicensed and unregistered estate agency work.

The father of three, who faced 17 Penal Code charges and five under the Estate Agents Act, had admitted to five cheating charges, one of forgery and two of conducting estate agency work without a licence or registered as a salesperson.

He had duped his victims into believing that he had investment opportunities in Perth hotels in Australia. He asked them to invest in return for a share of the profits of the sale.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Tay Jingxi said one of his victims, Singaporean Phyllis Noreen Gwynne, now 90, came across Khan's classified advertisement in June 2000, looking for investors to invest in Perth commercial land.

Over the phone, Khan told Ms Gwynne that he was also dealing in hotel properties in Perth, Australia. She showed interest to invest in the hotels.

A few days later, he went to her home and misrepresented that he had five hotels in Perth to invest in.

In fact, Khan did not have any investment opportunities in Perth hotels. He came up with the idea to con victims in Singapore after having seen that land and property was cheap there on a previous visit to Australia.

On June 5 that year, Ms Gwynne entered into an "investment agreement'' and handed $30,000 to Khan at his lawyer's office in return for a 50 per cent share of the profits derived from the sale of the hotel.

Later that month, he collected another $40,000 from her for investing in another hotel in Perth under a second handwritten agreement.

The following month, he showed up at her house and offered her investment opportunity in a motel in Perth. She gave him $30,000 for a 30 per cent share of the profits from the sale.

He spent all the money on himself.

Ms Gwynne would occasionally ask how her investments were doing. Khan told her that the "money was coming''. He did not at any point hand her any "proceeds'' he claimed she was entitled to.

DPP Tay said because of his assurances, Ms Gwynne delayed filing a police report. She eventually reported him to the police on Feb 15, 2006.

He cheated her of a total of $135,740. No restitution was made.

He also deceived Mr Goh Hin Hui, 38, into believing that he had business dealings in Dubai, and induced him to hand over $20,000 for the investment in November 2004.

When Mr Goh later asked about the status of his investment, Khan would delay payment to him and come up with various excuses.

Khan stole a blank Citi bank cheque from a renovation contractor's chequebook and forged a cheque for $50,000 to give to Mr Goh in 2005. The cheque bounced when Mr Goh tried to bank it in.

Khan, who was first arrested in February 2006, absconded while on bail. He was arrested in Woodlands on March 3 last year (2016). His sentence was backdated to Sept 21 last year.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.