He told his friends and online acquaintances that he needed to borrow money from them in order to unfreeze his bank and credit card account, or have a minimum sum top-up balance to withdraw his money.
But Muhammad Faris Mohd Khir took the money that was given to him and spent it on hotel stays and clubbing among other things.
The 22-year-old also resorted to phone-line scams, where he would ask victims to sign up for phone lines so that he could sell off the bundled mobile phones for quick cash.
On Monday (17 December), Faris was sentenced in the State Courts to 27 months’ jail. He faced a total of 100 cheating charges, out of which he pleaded guilty to 24 counts. The remaining charges were taken into consideration for his sentencing.
Faris, who dropped out of the Institute of Technical Education, cheated 30 victims between September 2016 and March this year. He met most of the victims through Tinder and Instagram.
He was first arrested for the offences on 12 June last year but continued his scams while out on bail pending investigations.
As part of his modus operandi, Faris would deceive victims into believing that he required a minimum balance in his cash account before he could withdraw money.
In some cases, he would tell victims that he would return them a higher sum of money. The victims transferred money to his account but they never received any money back.
In other cases, Faris deceived victims into lending money to him to “unfreeze” his bank or credit card account even though he did not own any credit card.
Faris would also persuade victims to register for phone lines for him, promising them that he would transfer the ownership of mobile lines to his name. He would ask them to sign up for the priciest mobile line to obtain the more expensive mobile phone.
However, Faris only wanted to sell the mobile phones for quick cash, and never took ownership of the mobile lines.
In total, Faris cheated his victims of $107,059. He spent part of the money on hotel stays, including a staycation at Sentosa Cove, and clubbing.
Only $6,700, a mobile phone and a power bank have been recovered.
The prosecution sought a sentence of 30 months’ jail, citing Faris’s brazenness in the offences and significant loss incurred by the victims.
Faris’s lawyer, Jeyabalen, said that Faris went into a life of crime as he wanted to “live the high life”. His client had also “lost control of himself” during the period of time after his girlfriend broke up with him. The defence asked for 24 months’ jail for his client.
District Judge Jasvender Kaur said that Faris’s conduct was “deeply disappointing and heartbreaking” to his parents. She told Faris that his arrest in June last year should have made him realise his mistakes.
“Unfortunately, it did not. You continued to offend. It is still not too late to change. I hope you will do it for yourself and not be silly enough to come back to court,” the judge said.
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