Woman convicted of duping 22 in $1.7m scam

To inherit money from her late father, she claimed, she needed cash to pay authorities

A woman claimed that she had inherited money from her deceased father in Pakistan which came from the sale of his land worth $7.4 million.

However, Aisha Pari Mohamed Ayub spun tales about having to pay the authorities in Pakistan and Singapore before she could get hold of it.

She asked people for money and vowed to repay the loan with interest as a "courtesy gift" or "token of appreciation" once she received her inheritance .

But over a span of about seven years, Aisha duped 22 victims aged between 50 and 78 of $1.74 million, in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $225,900.

Yesterday, the 55-year-old was convicted of 20 out of 381 charges - 18 of cheating and two of abetting in the forgery of a Subordinate Courts' letter and a letter from the Monetary Authority of Singapore. No restitution has been made.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lim Kah Hwee said that, in 2010, Aisha was running a shop at the Golden Landmark mall when she came to know Ms Aldebab @ Saripah Abu Bakar, 65, who placed her artwork for sale in Aisha's clothing shop.

Aisha conceived her plan in October that year. She began to tell everyone of her huge inheritance in Pakistan.

She sought money from people, purportedly to help her pay fees to the Pakistan and Singapore authorities.

She also told her victims that they could make donations or take their parents on pilgrimages with the extra money that she would give them in return.

As Ms Aldebab could not help her financially, Aisha used her as an agent to source for potential victims. Ms Aldebab was not aware that Aisha was lying about the inheritance.

After her arrest on Dec 15, 2011, Aisha absconded and did not report to the Commercial Affairs Department for her bail extension.

Before her re-arrest in March last year, she came up with another tale, telling victims that she was entitled to receive money from the sale of her matrimonial home in Saudi Arabia arising from her marriage annulment.

DPP Lim said Aisha employed various tactics in her scam.

These included getting one of her first victims, a distant relative, and a man called Rasul to forge documents purportedly issued by public agencies and institutions; instigating Rasul to forge bank statements; issuing dud cheques; and claiming to suffer from cancer.

Aisha admitted to using some of the money to gamble at Marina Bay Sands casino, said DPP Lim.

She claimed she took substantial amounts of money to Jakarta where she allegedly handed the cash to her former husband Hani Ghalib Masoudi.

She also used some of the money obtained from fresh victims to make partial repayments to earlier victims to induce them to deliver more money to her.

Aisha is represented by Mr Danny Chua.

DPP Lim sought a six-week adjournment for sentencing so that victim impact statements can be recorded.

District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt adjourned the case to March 6.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2018, with the headline 'Woman convicted of duping 22 in $1.7m scam'. Print Edition | Subscribe