Woman gets jail for conning $190k out of neighbour

She is jailed six years for getting victim to put money into bogus investment plans over seven-month period

A woman who cheated her next-door neighbour out of $190,000 through a bogus investment scheme was jailed for six years yesterday.

Teresa Tan Siew Poh pleaded guilty to three out of 11 charges of cheating. The remaining eight counts were taken into consideration in sentencing.

She was granted bail, pending an appeal against her sentence.

A community court heard she hatched a plan to cheat her Telok Blangah Heights neighbour in 2012.

Tan repeatedly asked the 47-year-old woman to put money in bogus investment plans over a seven-month period.

Tan, 68, lied that her daughter was a top bank executive, privy to investments with high returns. She even occasionally gave cash to her neighbour, to dupe her into believing she was getting returns on her investments. However, the fraudster also cheated the victim into giving back some of the purported returns, for further supposed investments. The neighbour lost $135,000 in all. Tan has not returned any money to her.

As part of her ruse, Tan even gave her neighbour fake documents with details of her bogus investment plans - such as the period of investment and projected returns.

Tan would then ask her to throw the documents away after reading them, saying they contained highly confidential information.

On Oct 15, 2012, the neighbour was conned into giving a $25,000 cheque to Tan, believing she would get a return of 6 to 8 per cent within the next week. The next day, the victim was duped into giving double that amount in cash to Tan, thinking she would get a $2,000 return after six months.

On March 13, 2013, the neighbour also gave Tan $11,000 in cash for an investment plan named "Daughter Wedding", believing she would get a return of $6,800, the court heard.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Norman Yew said some of the money Tan got from her neighbour went into paying purported returns to another victim, who had also been scammed by Tan. It is not known how many people Tan cheated in all.

The court did not hear how she was caught.

In sentencing Tan, Community Court Judge Lim Keng Yeow noted her age, the total sum involved in the scam, Tan's previous convictions and her mental disorder.

Tan suffers from dysthymia, or persistent mild depression, although this did not prevent her from exercising restraint and self-control, the judge found. Tan was jailed for three years in 1984 for cheating involving $230,000, and for 10 years in 1995 for cheating involving over $1.3 million.

Judge Lim added: "The current offences bear a very close resemblance to the modus operandi in her past offences.

"They are in fact very much a mere repeat of what she did in the past ... Despite having received highly substantial sentences ... she has again reoffended."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2016, with the headline 'Woman gets jail for conning $190k out of neighbour'. Print Edition | Subscribe