A young couple got involved in a scheme to steal money from foreign prostitutes, thinking that their victims would be less likely to report the matter to the police.
At the State Courts on Tuesday (22 January), Benjamin Yong Dun Zheng, 23, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ jail with 12 strokes of the cane. His girlfriend Chow Chia Suan, also 23, was jailed for four years.
The Singaporean couple pleaded guilty to three charges each: theft in dwelling with common intention, conspiracy to cheat and robbery by night with common intention.
In July 2017, Chow got to know 18-year-old Mendel See Li Quan, a Singapore permanent resident from Malaysia, through a mutual friend. She introduced See to Yong and the trio became close friends.
The next month, they discussed ways to make money and See suggested stealing cash from foreign prostitutes. The plan was to obtain the contact details of foreign prostitutes, lure them to See’s or Yong’s home and then rob or steal from them.
Stole $670 from foreign prostitute
In September 2017, the trio used Chow’s phone to contact Guo Shiqun, a 27-year-old Chinese national working as a beauty therapist in Singapore on a work permit. She had advertised her massage and sexual services online for $170.
The trio offered Guo $350 to travel to See’s home. At his home, See promised Guo $1,500 to keep him company for the whole day. She agreed and he paid her $600 in cash, which she kept in her wallet.
After they had sex, Guo went to the toilet and left her handbag unattended. Unknown to the victim, Yong and Chow were in the home with another accomplice, Malaysian national Wong Jin Sheng.
Wong opened Guo’s handbag and stole $670. Wong, Yong and Chow then left the home.
Shortly after, See invited Guo to join him for a meal and promised to pay her the outstanding money afterwards. She agreed and went with him to an eatery in Upper Thomson Road.
Yong, Chow and Wong tagged along in the same vehicle. But only Guo and Chow alighted.
Chow left the eatery while Guo was ordering food. When the food finally came, Guo opened her wallet, only to realise that all the cash in her wallet was missing. She tried calling See but he did not pick up his phone.
Cheated mother of $300
Yong, Chow and See also made plans to cheat their own families. In September 2017, See called Chow’s mother, Keak Poh See, asking if she wanted to meet her daughter – who was no longer living at home.
The 50-year-old woman agreed and met See and Chow at a void deck before heading to See’s home. There, See lied to Keak that Chow’s identity card (IC) had been taken away by Malaysian loansharks after she tried to borrow money on Yong’s behalf.
See offered to help get the IC back and asked Keak for $300 to settle the debts. Keak believed See’s story and made the transfer later that day.
Several days later, Keak contacted See asking if he had managed to get back her daughter’s IC. But See said the loanshark was now asking for $1,000. Keak said she would find a way to get the money.
A few days later, Keak got a text saying that loansharks were now asking for $2,000. Sensing something amiss, she made a police report the next day.
Robbed Singaporean prostitute
On 1 October 2017, See used his phone to contact a 53-year-old Singaporean woman who listed her massage and sexual services online.
The woman also brokered engagements for other prostitutes. She instructed a Filipina prostitute to go to See’s home, but the latter did not do so.
Angered, See plotted revenge. The next day, he used Chow’s phone to contact the 53-year-old, offering her $900 to turn up at Yong’s home at about 10pm.
When the victim arrived, Yong opened the front door as part of an act. Shortly after, See and Chow banged on the door to pretend they were entering from outside the unit and then confronted the victim with a rod.
See pretended to scold Yong and demanded money, while also threatening him with the rod. See then passed Chow the rod and drew out a chopper.
The victim pleaded with See and Chow to let her leave, but they asked her to pay Yong’s debt.
See pointed the chopper at the victim, who feared for her life. He pulled her bag away from her and told her not to move. He passed the bag to Chow, who took $100 in cash, a $13 pack of cigarettes, and two mobile phones worth $550 and $100. Yong remained silent as part of the act.
See told Chow and Yong to leave the room and closed the door. He then allegedly raped the victim.
After the victim left, See, Yong and Chow went to an Internet gaming shop. The victim later made a police report.
Police arrested the trio the next day at See’s home, where they recovered their last victim’s mobile phones.
See’s case is pending at the High Court. Only male offenders below the age of 50 are liable for caning.
More Singapore stories: