Bogus shaman cheated woman who was seeking marriage of almost $50,000

The Singapore State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
The Singapore State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Pretending to be a deity, a woman cheated a friend of her mother who was seeking a prospective husband of almost $50,000.

Soh Chih Hui, 23, would claim that the victim, 61, needed to “borrow fate” before she could be married. In order to do so, Soh told the victim to hand over cash for religious rites and material goods to her.

On Wednesday (30 September), Soh was found guilty after a trial of one amalgamated charge involving nine occasions of cheating from April to November 2015.

Soh knew the older woman, then 56, through her mother, who was a primary school friend of the victim. She and the victim had also attended religious practice sessions together at a flat.

According to the victim, Soh offered to introduce to her a man who would be her boyfriend and later husband. Soh claimed that he was 51, worked at POSB, earned a monthly salary of $7,000 and had a temple in Changi.

To bolster her lie, Soh even showed the victim a photo of “the man” in her handphone.

Soh then pretended to be a child deity, adopting a high-pitch and child-like voice to address the victim. She also pretended to be a deity “Fu Wang” and spoke in a low voice.

While in her sham roles, Soh would tell the woman that she needed to “borrow fate” to be with her future husband. This required her to hand over cash for shoes, clothing, cosmetics, and religious rites.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Eric Hu said, “To be blunt, the victim was treated akin to (Soh’s) personal ATM. Whenever the accused wanted money, she would call the victim, and the victim would have to scramble to withdraw and pass cash to her, even when it was in the middle of the night.”

When doing so, the victim testified she was “very frightened” and would give Soh whatever amount she asked for, said DPP Hu.

In January 2016, the victim finally realised she was being deceived when Soh asked her to sell her HDB flat. She lodged a police report.

By then, she had already pawned her jewellery under Soh’s instructions, and had also given her NTUC Income insurance payout of over $17,000 to Soh. She even begged her brother for loans.

Later, when the older woman ran out of money, Soh asked her to work for her father at his bak kut teh stall, with her salary handed over to Soh.

In arguing for Soh to be found guilty, DPP Hu asked the court to consider the victim’s profile. The victim was a superstitious person who went to temples to pray regularly and attended religious sessions, he said. She even changed her name for good luck.

“The victim was a person who was plainly naïve and simple-minded. This very same characteristic of hers was what led her to be exploited by (Soh),” said DPP Hu.

The DPP pointed out that the victim only had secondary school education and did odd jobs to earn a living.

Soh, represented by lawyer Peter Keith Fernando, denied the offences during her trial, claiming that she did not take any money from the elder woman, nor did she help the woman find a husband. She said she could not explain why the victim make the allegations against her.

Soh will return to court on 3 December for mitigation and sentencing.

For cheating, Soh faces a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine.

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