He stole credit card details from five friends to pay for his own personal expenses, which included religious ritual services at a Buddhist temple, topping up a Starbucks card and paying for hotel stays.
In total, Freddie Yap Feng Hao, 25, accumulated $13,990.49 in debt from 10 stolen credit cards. For his crimes, he was slapped with 100 charges including cheating, theft and theft in dwelling.
On Tuesday (17 October), Yap was sentenced to 55 months’ jail after he pleaded guilty earlier to 20 charges, the bulk of which were for cheating. The remaining 80 charges were taken into consideration for his sentence.
Yap committed the offences between August and October last year after becoming acquainted with his victims through various channels. He met Alex Liu Bing An, 56, through Facebook and the latter invited Yap to his house for dinner in September last year following a period of mutual correspondence.
Liu then invited Yap to stay and take care of him as Liu had undergone an operation. After Liu was admitted to the hospital, Yap stole his Citibank credit card and spent $3,426.87 on personal expenses including meals at a restaurant, shopping, and hotel stays.
Yap also took pictures of a DBS credit card belonging to 43-year-old limousine driver Alfred Heng Kwee Poh, whom he came to know after using the latter’s Uber services. On one occasion, Yap took a picture of Heng’s credit card, which the latter had left on top of the sun shade in his vehicle.
Yap misappropriated the highest amount from 48-year-old Jimmy Ng Joo Miang, spending a total of $5,533.34 of the latter’s credit card funds on personal items and services. He spent $1,170 on religious ritual services at the Thekchen Choling temple in October 2016 and made transactions of at least $2036.10 through PayPal.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Stephanie Chew sought a sentence of at least 60 months for Yap, citing a need to deter both Yap and like-minded individuals. She pointed out that Yap had been convicted on prior cheating and theft-in-dwelling offences in 2014 and was sentenced to 48 months’ jail then.
“The accused is clearly a recalcitrant and persistent offender who has not been deterred by his previous lengthy sentence of imprisonment,” she said. DPP Chew added that Yap had breached his friends’ trust.
To date, Yap has not made any restitution of the money he stole. His lawyer Joyce Ng cited Yap’s youth and the fact that he suffers from a congenital heart disease as mitigating factors.
District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan, however, noted that any mitigating value had been eroded by Yap’s “brazenness and persistence” in committing the multiple offences.
Yap will have his sentence backdated to 15 October last year when he was remanded. For cheating, Yap could have been imprisoned for up to three years and/or fined on each charge. For theft, he could have been jailed up to three years and/or fined on each charge.
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