SINGAPORE — A man who cheated his mistress of more than $200,000, in part by pretending to be a police officer, was jailed for two years and eight months on Monday (24 August).
Benjamin Lai Jieheng, 33, fed his 47-year-old mistress lies from 2012 to 2015, pretending to need money to settle a case with a police officer and for the operations of a shop where she had employed him.
Lai pleaded guilty to 13 out of 53 charges of cheating and criminal breach of trust, with the rest of the charges taken into consideration for sentencing. He had also deceived a second victim, a 37-year-old man, into lending him his credit card to pay for supposed hospital bills.
Mistress hired him to work at her stalls
Lai met the female victim in 2005 while the former was working as a sales assistant at a pushcart located at Bugis Street. He was then a friend of one of the tenants of a neighbouring push cart.
Between 2006 and 2007, the woman began operating her own stall at Bugis Street and employed Lai as a sales assistant. They began dating despite Lai being married. The woman opened a second stall in 2008, also employing Lai in the same position. She paid Lai between $1,200 and $1,500 every month.
Apart from being lovers, the two were also informal business partners. The woman had shared some of her profits with Lai and also contributed to his Central Provident Fund account.
After the woman opened her second stall, the man lied to her that he had been arrested by a police officer known as “Steven Tay” for assault. Lai claimed that he had to report daily to “Steven”, who did not exist, and assist with chores in order not to be charged.
As part of his ruse, Lai would impersonate “Steven” and text the victim between September 2012 and December 2015 to request for money. Lai then misappropriated the money handed over to him.
During the same period, Lai also devised other lies to get the victim to hand him money.
On 26 August 2013, he told the woman that he needed money to reopen his bank account. He impersonated “Steven” and asked the woman for financial assistance. As “Steven”, Lai assured the woman that she would get her money back once the bank account was reopened. As a result, the woman wrote a cheque of $3,400 to Lai.
On an occasion in 2014, Lai impersonated “Steven” to deceive the woman into thinking that the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore required payment as proof that the woman and her sister were business partners. The woman handed over $4,300 as a result.
On 22 November the same year, the woman entrusted Lai with $9,000 in cash to pay the rent for her stalls, but Lai siphoned the money for his own use.
In this manner, Lai deceived the woman into parting with $204,909.05 over three years. The woman made a police report on 28 December 2015, stating that a debt collector had demanded repayment of a $99,000 debt which she had no knowledge of.
After she made further enquiries, she realised that the debt collector had been engaged by the management of Bugis Street and found that Lai had not been paying for the rent of her two shops with the money she entrusted him with. The management told the woman that they were terminating her lease due to her debt. The woman then made a further police report on 5 January 2016.
Apart from his offences against his mistress, Lai also cheated a man he knew through his business dealings.
On 3 April last year, Lai approached the 37-year-old man and claimed he needed money to pay for hospital bills of a person he had been involved in an accident with. The victim declined to help.
Despite the rejection, Lai hung around the victim’s shop. Worried that Lai’s presence would affect his business, the victim relented and agreed to lend Lai $1,000.
Lai asked to borrow the victim’s credit card and later made two unauthorised transactions of $2,000 and $1,848.40. The victim found out about the ruse when he checked his e-statement the next day and lodged a police report. Lai did not repay the victim.
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