Man jailed for cheating victims of nearly $200,000 after claiming to have surgical masks for sale

SINGAPORE - An odd-job worker duped his victims of nearly $200,000 during the Covid-19 outbreak after claiming that he had surgical face masks for sale.

Singaporean Daryl Cheong Zhi Yong, 28, was sentenced on Monday (July 27) to three years and two months' jail after pleading guilty to two cheating charges involving more than $180,000.

He also admitted four counts of dealing with the benefits of his criminal conduct.

Ten charges, including six other counts of cheating, were considered during sentencing.

The court heard that he operated an account known as lester1235 on online marketplace Carousell offering surgical face masks for sale.

On Feb 12,Mr Kelvin Tay came across his post and contacted Cheong to express his interest in buying a large quantity of masks.

Cheong then lied, claiming that his name was Lester Wong and that he had a ready supply of the goods.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Michelle Tay and Jeremy Bin stated in court documents: "The accused deceived Mr Tay into believing that he had an available stock of 500 cartons of surgical face masks, when he in fact did not.

"The accused knew that he had no means to supply the promised stock of masks to Mr Tay either. Mr Tay agreed to pay $400,000 for 500 cartons of surgical face masks, with $175,000 in cash to be paid upfront."

The pair met at Jurong Point shopping centre the next day and Mr Tay gave Cheong 175 pieces of $1,000 bills.

When asked for his particulars, Cheong showed Mr Tay an expired Malaysian driving licence which he had earlier found. Mr Tay snapped a picture of the licence and went home.

He then contacted Cheong after realising that the surname on the licence was Goh and not Wong as claimed.

The conman replied that the person whom Mr Tay had met was his cousin and made plans to meet the victim in Whampoa on Feb 14. Cheong later became uncontactable and Mr Tay alerted the police.

By using a similar ruse, Cheong also cheated another victim, Ms Irene Phua, of $7,500 in February.

After getting hold of the money, Cheong passed $30,000 to his close friend, Ms Lim Poh Yen, for safekeeping. He also handed another $106,000 to his girlfriend, Ms Goh Li En.

On Feb 13, he went to a Serangoon Central pawnshop with Ms Lim and bought a Rolex watch worth more than $7,000.

He also went to a Geylang Road shop with Ms Lim and Ms Goh to buy more than $9,000 worth of gold jewellery, including six rings and two necklaces.

Police arrested Cheong on Feb 14 and officers later seized from him an assortment of items including more than $145,000 in cash and the watch.

He has made no restitution.

For each count of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

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