SINGAPORE - An unemployed man duped car rental companies into renting him their vehicles after he posed as an employee of different law firms.
Imran Mohamed, 41, also deceived two property owners into renting apartments to him.
By using items such as screenshots of purported successful bank transfers, he duped his victims into believing that he had paid for their services, the court heard.
Imran, who has been in and out of jail since 2000 for offences including multiple counts of cheating, was given seven years' preventive detention and disqualified from driving for a year on Monday (Nov 27). He was last released in 2015 after spending five years behind bars.
On Nov 3, he pleaded guilty to six counts of forgery for the purpose of cheating involving $158,421.40 in all. He also admitted to a cheating charge and three counts each of driving without a licence and insurance coverage. Eleven other charges for similar offences were considered during sentencing.
Preventive detention, which can last seven to 20 years, is for recalcitrant offenders. They must serve the full sentence with no reduction for good behaviour.
Imran had committed his latest string of offences between April and July.
In one incident, he contacted a sales executive from National Car Rental on June 2 and pretended to be a lawyer from Allen & Gledhill law firm.
He told her that he wished to rent a BMW for a Singapore General Hospital senior consultant for 18 months and was told that it would cost $24,975.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Ti-Ting said: "The accused knew that he did not have the money to pay for the car rental. The accused used photo editing software to make a false electronic record showing that there had been a successful bank transfer... when the transfer had in fact been unsuccessful."
The sales executive then arranged for the car to be delivered to him after he sent her the forged electronic record.
National Car Rental realised it had not received the money on June 7. When contacted, Imran promised to deliver a cash cheque to the sales executive the next day. When he failed to do so, it retrieved the car at Bedok Point using its tracking system on June 9.
On Monday, District Judge Marvin Bay said that Imran is a habitual offender "who is implacably resistant to reform".
He added: "Mr Imran has time and again failed to learn from his erroneous ways and rehabilitate himself despite the numerous chances afforded by the criminal justice system."
Imran, who was unrepresented, pleaded for leniency on Monday.
Addressing him directly, Judge Bay said he hopes Imran would use his intelligence and persuasive skills to maintain employment instead of "wantonly" deceiving and victimising the people he meets.
For each count of forgery for the purpose of cheating, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.