It started out as an online business selling milk powder and diapers at competitive prices. But when Abdul Hadi Abdul Latif’s customer base grew and he could not keep up with orders, he falsely promised customers free diapers and milk powder in return for investing in his business.
Ultimately, the 34-year-old cheated over 50 customers of more than $58,000 in just five months.
Abdul Hadi, a former pest control technician, was jailed 18 months after he pleaded guilty to 14 charges of cheating in the State Courts on Monday (12 March). Another 87 charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
The court heard that Abdul Hadi started a business buying and re-selling milk powder and baby diapers sometime in December 2013. He obtained customers through advertisements posted on Facebook and by word-of-mouth.
Customers would place orders via phone messages and transfer funds to Abdul Hadi’s bank account, and he used these payments for his personal expenses. At the end of the month, Abdul Hadi would use his salary from his day job to purchase the items and fulfil customers’ orders.
Due to the unsustainable prices he advertised, the business was in the red by April 2014.
Abdul Hadi then devised a scheme to sell the milk powder and diapers at “promotional prices” so that he could draw more money into his business to fulfil outstanding orders.
According to Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Chew, Abdul Hadi promised high returns and large quantities of free milk powder and diapers to customers if they invested cash with him, despite knowing that he would not be able to fulfil these promises.
DPP Chew said that between 1 April and 14 August 2014, 55 customers were cheated 101 times because of Abdul Hadi’s falsely-advertised products. Each cheating offence involved between $16 and $7,052, amounting to a total of $58,171.34.
Abdul Hadi also persisted in carrying on this business even when he was unable to fulfil orders. To date, no restitution has been made, she added.
DPP Chew asked District Judge Jasvender Kaur for a jail term of 18 months.
Abdul Hadi’s lawyer Tan Chao Yuen sought a jail term of 14 months, saying that his client did agree to pay two claimants the amount they were seeking after they had approached the Small Claims Tribunal.
He also said Abdul Hadi was in ill health and had medical problems such as heart disease, hypertension and sleep apnea.
DPP Chew responded that the amount paid through the Small Claims Tribunal should not be considered as voluntary restitution.
The judge accepted the DPP’s submissions and sentenced Abdul Hadi to 18 months’ jail.
Abdul Hadi has applied to defer serving his sentence until 28 March so that he can attend some medical appointments.