SINGAPORE - An unemployed woman who conned at least 15 victims of $3.9 million by perpetrating multiple scams was sentenced to 12 years' jail on Friday (Jan 6).
Kalimahton Mohamed Samuri, 55, has had a previous brush with the law.
She was sentenced to 6½ years' jail in 2000 for criminal breach of trust of $7 million worth of jewellery.
Then dubbed the "pawnshop princess", she had called herself Datin Sharinah and pawned the jewellery in various pawnshops between 1997 and 1999, leaving behind a complex trail that took the police years to unravel.
Years after her release, she was back to her old ways.
Between 2012 and 2015, the undischarged bankrupt cheated multiple victims including taxi drivers, crane operators, a fishmonger and a scuba instructor.
The court heard that in her main ruse, she would tell the victims that she could offer favourable exchange rates for foreign currencies.
She also told them that money was needed for storage and taxes of the foreign currencies, or that she could exchange cash notes into special SG50 commemorative notes and that the victims could make a commission on this change.
She would also represent that she had wealthy buyers in Malaysia who were interested in luxury goods which could be bought in Singapore. She would then sell the goods and pocket the money.
She also claimed that she had an inheritance but would require a certain sum of money to pay taxes and customs to access it.
In early 2014, she told a 45-year-old taxi driver that she had inherited a large amount of cash, gold and jewellery, from her late husband, and her father.
She claimed that the inheritance, from Indonesia, was being detained by customs pending payment of taxes and other associated charges.
In 2015, she deceived the cabby into "investing'' $120,000 with her, after lying to him that he would get returns.
The court heard that once money was delivered, she would roll over some of the the money to pay off her other victims to gain their trust, allowing her to sustain the scam for a longer time.
As a result, some victims got back some money.
She claimed to have used the rest on gambling, repaying loans taken from loan sharks, and her own personal expenditure.
Kalimahton, who was in a wheelchair in court, admitted to 20 of 69 cheating charges.
Calling her a "career cheat'', Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiam Jia Min sought a high sentence of 12 to 14 years. She said the offences involved planning, pre-meditation, a large number of victims and were committed over a prolonged period of time.
On each charge, Kalimahton, whose sentence was backdated to Nov 21, 2015, could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.