Man jailed for cheating victim of $35k by claiming he needed money for son's medical bills

SINGAPORE - He told his brother's friend that he needed money for his son's medical bills, and even produced a picture of a baby with tubes attached to support his story.

But Jaguar Tan's story was a ploy to cheat the friend, who transferred $35,000 to him. Tan later spent part of the money on gambling.

Tan, 42, who had earlier pleaded guilty to a cheating charge, was sentenced to 16 months' jail in court on Thursday (June 2) for his offence against Mr Soh Chey Hean, 34.

Tan's brother, Tan Shi Feng, 32, was convicted on Oct 1, 2019, for his role in the scam, which was among six charges he faced for various offences.

He was sentenced to a total of 30 months' jail, including 16 months for his offence against Mr Soh, who was his colleague in the Republic of Singapore Navy.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Lim said in court documents that Tan Shi Feng had borrowed money from Mr Soh on multiple occasions before Oct 15, 2017.

At around 9.30 pm that day, Tan informed Mr Soh that he was at a void deck near Mr Soh's home, and wanted to meet to discuss the repayment of his younger brother's debt.

Mr Soh met the brothers at the void deck of Block 9 Haig Road at around 10pm. It was his first meeting with Tan, who showed him a picture on his mobile phone of a baby with tubes attached.

Claiming that the baby was his son, he also showed Soh a newspaper article on his phone which apparently featured his family, including his son.

Tan told Soh he needed money for his son's medical bills, knowing that this was false, said DPP Lim.

During the conversation, Tan Shi Feng chimed in and corroborated his brother's story. Though initially reluctant, Mr Soh gave in when the brothers continued to pressure him.

He went home and transferred the $35,000 to Tan's bank account via Internet banking at around 11.15pm. Tan later transferred $17,290 to his brother.

There had been no discussion of a repayment plan to Mr Soh during the meeting.

On Nov 26, 2017, Mr Soh made a police report at Bukit Merah East Neighbourhood Police Centre.

According to court documents, no restitution has been made, and Tan had used at least $9,000 of the money for gambling.

In court on Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Emily Koh asked for Tan to be given at least the same punishment as his brother for the offence, highlighting that Tan had taken a larger share of the money.

Tan's lawyer, Mr Riyach Hussain, asked for a sentence of not more than 10 months' jail, arguing that his client need not receive the same sentence as Tan Shi Feng, who had cheated the victim on multiple occasions.

After District Judge Lau Qiuyu sentenced him, Tan reiterated this point, telling the judge that his sentence was too high as his brother had committed more offences.

Judge Lau told Tan that he could speak to his lawyer about the appropriate next steps to address this.

For cheating, Tan could have been sentenced for up to 10 years in jail and fined.

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