He told a male friend about a secretary who was working for him, claiming that she was looking for a boyfriend.
But Chia Han Lin, a 26-year-old limousine driver, was actually posing as the fictional secretary. He wanted to cheat his friend as he was in need of money.
Chia’s friend began text messaging the “secretary”. He trusted “her” so much that he sent close to $50,000 and his nude photos to the “secretary” even though he had never met “her”.
On Thursday (21 March), Chia admitted in the State Courts to four counts of cheating and one count of affray in an unrelated incident.
He first knew his friend when they were both studying at an Institute of Technical Education in 2009. They kept in touch after graduation and went on holidays several times.
Facing financial woes, Chia decided to make use of his friend. In August 2016, he told his friend he had a “secretary” named “Cindy” who was single. He gave “Cindy’s” number to his friend, who began messaging “her”. But the phone number belonged to Chia, who was posing as “Cindy”.
“As the fictitious relationship progressed, (Chia), posing as Cindy, informed Lim that s(he) had purchased a condominium at Pasir Ris for the both of them and had paid for the down payment,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Chew told the court.
“Cindy” messaged Chia’s friend that “she” did not have enough money for the condominium and asked him for money to help with payments on several occasions.
In November 2016, the friend transferred a total of $48,100 to Chia over four transactions.
The friend later suspected that Chia was impersonating as “Cindy” and made a police report on 16 August 2017 about the scam.
Chia has since returned $11,000 of the money that he had cheated to his friend.
In a separate incident on 6 October last year, Chia got into a fight with another driver after he and the driver refused to give way to each other on the road.
Chia was previously sentenced to probation in 2011 and to five months’ jail in 2015 for cheating offences, DPP Chew told the court.
Seeking a jail term of 18 months’ and a $2,000 fine, the prosecutor said that Chia had cheated the trust of his friend.
Wee Hong Shern, Chia’s lawyer, said that Chia had also been a victim of a scam perpetuated by his boss, which landed him in a debt of $172,000. Chia had to borrow from his parents to settle the sum, the lawyer told the court.
Chia, who also manages a limousine company, has since successfully sued the boss, said Wee. The lawyer asked for a 15-month jail term for his client, as Chia was unable to pay a fine.
Chia will be sentenced on 11 April.
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