SINGAPORE - He would book or flag down a taxi and then get the cabbies to stop at a food centre and asked them for loans, claiming he did not have enough money to pay for food.
In all, Muhamad Farib Hassan cheated more than 30 taxi drivers of about $2,600 between May and October 2015, a district court heard.
He faced 77 charges, including two counts each of theft and drug-related charges.
On Monday (March 14) , the 43-year-old was sentenced to 15 months' jail after pleading guilty to 26 charges. The sentence was backdated to his remand on Oct 9 in 2015.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Makoto Hong told the court that sometime in May 2015, Farib devised a plan to cheat taxi drivers . He would make taxi bookings by providing false numbers and names, using public phones.
When the taxi arrives to pick him up in Marsiling, he would ask the cabby to take him to Haig Road Market along Geylang Road.
He deceived the driver into believing that he would pay the taxi fare when he had no intention to do so.
DPP Hong said Farib dishonestly induced 12 victims to provide him with taxi transportation services totalling $448 over five months. The fares were between $27 and $51.
When he arrived at Haig Road Market, he would ask the driver to wait for him in the taxi on the pretext of collecting some food, usually some cakes, from the market.
He would return shortly and ask to borrow money from the victim for his food collection, giving the excuse that he did not have any cash with him and needed to withdraw money from the nearest OCBC ATM machine at City Plaza.
He would promise to repay the loan after his food collection. Once the victim has lent him the money, he would disappear and spend the money subsequently.
He dishonestly induced the 12 victims to deliver a total of $550 to him.
On Aug 11 last year, the court heard that he boarded Mr Abdul Karim Mohamed's taxi at Woodlands Drive and asked him to drive him to Haig Road Market.
On arrival, Farib asked the driver to wait for him, claiming that he had to collect food from the market, but the driver refused and asked him to pay the fare first.
Farib then left his pouch on the front passenger seat and left.
He returned a few minutes later and asked Mr Karim to lend him money for his food collection, but Mr Karim refused and asked him to pay the taxi fare.
Farib then opened the front passenger door and took his wallet which was inside the pouch. He also took Mr Karim's $800 cellphone and ran towards the market. Mr Karim gave chase but to no avail.
Farib, who did not return any of the money, was arrested at his home in Marsiling Road on Oct 7. A urine sample taken showed he had taken morphine.
Investigation showed that he had consumed heroin about two days earlier at Teban Gardens to relieve his stress from his personal problems.
Mr Leon Koh, his lawyer assigned under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, said due to his client's sexual orientation, he was shunned by his family and friends. He said Farib was "sincerely apologetic and accepts that he deserved the 15 months that the prosecution is proposing''.
Farib could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined for cheating. For simple cheating or theft, the maximum penalty is three years and a fine.