Man gets jail and fine for cheating and theft of cellphone

SINGAPORE - An unemployed man who stole a mobile phone from a woman and cheated her of $1,000 was jailed for one month and fined $2,000 on Tuesday.

Tan Chia Hao, 32, admitted to stealing an iPhone, a work permit, $20 and an access card with a key from Chinese national Yao Maojiao, 28, at her home in Lorong 19 Geylang on June 23 this year.

He also admitted cheating her of $1,000 between June 26 and 27 by making her believe that he would return her iPhone to her.

A district court heard that the victim, a performing artiste, received a phone call from Tan at about 1am on June 23, requesting to meet her.

After chatting on the phone, he asked to meet her at her home for sex at $70 per hour. She agreed.

After he had sex with her, he noticed her using a white iPhone 4 and intended to steal it. When the victim fell asleep, he stole her phone as well as a pouch containing a work permit, $20 and access card with a key.

He tried to sell the phone to a second-hand mobile phone dealer but was refused as he did not know the password. The next day, he managed to unlock the iPhone and tried again to sell it. But he was not happy with the price quoted and did not sell it.

Subsequently, he considered how to get more money using the iPhone to cheat the victim.

He contacted her, telling her that he was holding onto the phone. As the phone was given by her boyfriend and contained personal information, the victim was anxious to get it back. She also needed the other items for work and to access her residence.

Tan asked her for money before he would return her the phone and other items but had no intention of doing so.

Eventually, Ms Yao agreed to give him $1,000 in exchange for the phone and other items. Tan retrieved the money from the back door of one of the units in Lorong 4 as pre-arranged.

When he failed to hand over the phone, the victim sent him text messages but he feigned ignorance.

He was subsequently traced by the police and arrested.

A third charge of trying to extort $15,000 from one Shee Yew Kuen - the victim's boyfriend - was taken into consideration. Tan had threatened to expose that Mr Shee was having an extramartial affair with Ms Yao .

Tan said he regretted his actions and that he used the $1,000 to pay moneylenders. In his mitigation letter, he stated that he was under great pressure due to the $52,000 debt he had incurred, mostly to loansharks.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.