SINGAPORE - A con artist returned to a life of crime just a month after her release from prison, masterminding a renovation scam involving nearly $1.8 million.
Husniyati Omar, 41 - a mother of seven children aged three to 19 - cheated home owners and sub-contractors by failing to honour agreements.
The Singaporean was jailed for seven years and nine months on Tuesday (Sept 25) after pleading guilty last month to 20 cheating charges and one count of criminal breach of trust. These 21 charges involved almost $770,000.
Another 126 charges for similar offences involving the remaining amount were taken into consideration during sentencing.
The court heard that she was sentenced to four months' jail in 2015 after admitting to cheating offences.
Following her release in August that year, she misappropriated $68,260 from her employer, home renovation company Elegance Concept, between September and December 2015.
She left the firm in January 2016. After that, she cheated 89 home owners and sub-contractors out of nearly $1.8 million.
In early 2016, Husniyati asked her friend Christina Wong Hoi Khay, 22, to be the sole director and shareholder of a renovation firm called Carpentry Design Works. She promised to give Ms Wong $3,000 every month.
However, the company and its bank accounts were at all times controlled by Husniyati and her husband Aszrul Yusoff, 37, the court heard.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Ti-Ting told District Judge Edgar Foo that the couple promised home owners and prospective customers that the company was able to complete renovation works within specific deadlines.
However, Husniyati never had the intention of ensuring that Carpentry Design Works would honour the agreements or complete the renovation works.
Husniyati also duped sub-contractors into believing that she would pay them for work they had done. However, she had no intention of doing so.
One sub-contractor, engaged to carry out flooring work, alerted the police on April 13 last year, and she was arrested.
While out on bail, Husniyati asked Mr Mohammad Khairuldin Abdullah, 32, to set up another renovation firm, Chanteq Flooring Specialist, through which she continued to commit cheating offences with a similar modus operandi.
Judge Foo noted that large sums of money were involved in Husniyati's current cases and she had made no restitution.
He also highlighted that she had reoffended while out on bail. The case involving Aszrul is still pending.