SINGAPORE — A man jailed for five years last year for deceiving six women he met through a dating website into parting with their money has been sentenced afresh for cheating another woman out of over $320,000.
Peter Aw Boo Cheong had also represented himself as an experienced trader to the 42-year-old woman and tricked her into selling her assets, taking loans from three different banks and using her life insurance policy as collateral. Aw used his dishonest gains on personal expenses, including settling gambling debts.
His lawyer, Michael Loh, told the court however, that Aw, 49, the intention to “start a real romantic relationship” with the woman, and he went as far as to meet the victim’s family members.
“There were intentions to develop the relationship further but unfortunately the issue of money and my client’s weakness in this area got in the way,” said Loh.
Aw was jailed for a year on Monday (24 August), after he pleading guilty to three out of eight charges of cheating the victim into believing that he needed a certain sum of money. His fresh jail term will commence when he completes the current five-year sentence he is serving.
In December 2015, Aw met the victim through dating website “singpaorelovelinks.com”, where he introduced himself as “Daniel” and represented himself as an experienced foreign exchange trader.
Between 10 January and 11 February 2016, he tricked her into believing that he was a credible and trustworthy person who could help her with her investments. In fact, he was never a trader. He also lied that he needed money for making payment for clients’ accounts, or opening a bookie account to recover investment losses.
The victim withdrew from her personal savings, sold her assets including silver bars amounting to $60,000, and DBS Securities amounted to some $50,000. She also took loans of $189,000 from three banks and had to pay interest of more than $12,000.
She also obtained a $26,000 loan from her insurer using her life insurance policy as collateral, which she had to eventually surrender as she could not afford to service it with interest.
In total, the victim gave a total of $320,300 to Aw, a part of which she transferred to a bank account which belonged to the mother of Aw’s third child.
Aw spent the entire sum of money on personal expenses and for gambling at the Marina Bay Sands Casino. He also used the money to pay off gambling debts. He did not repay the victim any amount of money.
The prosecution sought a year’s jail for Aw’s offences related to this victim, describing him as a serial and recalcitrant cheat who practised the same modus operandi on this victim for over a month.
“He exploited the victim’s interest in him as a friend, as well as her misplaced trust in him as an experienced and credible trader,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Hsiao Tien.
Aw had used the same method to cheat other women since 2010. Aw was previously convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 14 months’ jail for cheating four women he met on dating websites.
He reoffended by cheating a further six women, aged 39 to 50, and pleaded guilty to this set of charges on 28 November 2018 and 21 February 2019. He was sentenced to five years’ jail over these charges.
The victim in this current case lodged a police report on 23 February 2019, after Aw had pleaded guilty to the earlier offences. Aw was hence hauled to court again on Monday for offences against her.
Loh, Aw’s lawyer pleaded for Aw’s new sentence to start on Monday, as his client had not challenged the charges in any way.
However DPP Tan argued for the new sentence to begin after Aw finishes his current sentence of five years. She said, “The transactions in this case are separate from the current sentence as they involve different transactions with different victims committed (during) a separate duration from the accused’s earlier set of offences.”
In mitigating for Aw, Loh also added that his use of the name “Daniel” was not part of his ploy to hide his identity as he was known as Daniel to his friends, preferring it over his real name.
For cheating, Aw could have been jailed up to 10 years and fined on each charge.
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