Used-car dealer jailed 11 months for cheating

After deceiving a customer into believing he was the owner of a second-hand Audi S5, used-car dealer Teo Huat Bee kept the title to the car for himself and used it to obtain a loan of over $46,000.

When he failed to repay the loan, the car was repossessed from the new owner, who ended up paying a hefty sum to get his car back.

Teo, 42, was yesterday sentenced to 11 months' jail for one count of cheating.

Although the sole proprietor of used-car dealership Vest Carz Motoring had agreed to sell the Audi S5 to Mr Chua Chee Khoon for $57,000, he had in fact planned to retain ownership of the car for himself, and use it as security for a loan.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tow Chew Chi said that in March last year, Mr Chua saw an advertisement by the dealership offering the car for sale.

After signing an agreement with Teo, Mr Chua paid $24,061.92 in cash and traded in his old Audi A4 - valued at $35,000 - to the firm, said DPP Tow. The sum included an additional $2,061.92 for insurance.

Teo then sent Mr Chua's old car to be scrapped and obtained $35,000 in the process. Assuring the victim that ownership of the title to the Audi S5 had been transferred to him, Teo handed the keys over to the unsuspecting Mr Chua.

But Teo had retained the title to the car and used the vehicle as security to obtain a $46,312.50 loan from leasing service Fuyo Leasing, said DPP Tow.

He then used the loan for his car business. However, he failed to make repayments on the loan, prompting Fuyo Leasing to exercise its legal right to repossess the vehicle - which, at that time, was in the possession of Mr Chua. As a result, the car was towed away in September last year.

Mr Chua lodged a police report, but had to pay $35,797.76 to regain possession of the same car he had bought less than six months earlier.

District Judge Marvin Bay noted that while Teo has since made a partial restitution of $11,312.50 to Fuyo Leasing, this did not address the sum Mr Chua had already paid to the leasing service.

Defence counsel said Teo had attempted to make restitution, but had fallen short due to his limited financial means. In addition to supporting his wife and seven-year-old child, Teo spends about $1,000 a month on his mother, who was diagnosed with cancer, the court heard.

For cheating and dishonestly inducing the delivery of property, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

Ilyda Chua

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2018, with the headline 'Used-car dealer jailed 11 months for cheating'. Print Edition | Subscribe