SINGAPORE — For over three years, a man preyed on other men he met through dating apps, spinning a web of lies to ensnare them into signing up for things he wanted.
Jerald Low Jing Yong, 27, even registered marriage with a woman with bipolar disorder, and used her to cheat her brother.
Low would pretend to be a wealthy man and eventually cheated his victims of more than $150,000. He even tried to encash a $1 trillion cheque he wrote.
Low was sentenced to 67 months’ jail and fined $1,800 on Wednesday (16 March). He pleaded guilty to 16 out of 51 charges, with his offences spanning from 2017 to 2020, mostly for cheating. The remaining charges were considered for his sentencing. He will be disqualified from driving for 12 months from his date of release from prison.
In 2017, Low met a student at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and introduced himself as a medical student at NUS. He convinced this student, named Louis, to sign up for mobile lines on his behalf. Low never paid for the lines and lied that his “twin brother” would pay for the lines.
Low became annoyed with Louis for asking him to pay the bills. He engaged a lawyer to intimidate Louis.
In 2018, he issued cheques to his bank account so that his ledger balance would show a temporary increase. In April that year, he used his mother’s UOB chequebook to issue a cheque for $1 trillion. He forged her signature before cashing in the cheque to his OCBC account.
OCBC checked the status of Low’s mother’s account and found that it was closed. There was a risk that an interest sum of more than $2.5 million would show in Low’s available balance temporarily, and this could have been withdrawn. The bank lodged a police report.
On at least four other occasions, Low issued cheques to entities, including the Central Provident Fund Board, Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council, and the Housing Development Board.
In 2019, Low cheated property sellers by pretending to be a wealthy Korean, even dyeing his hair to appear the part. He used 13 cheques with values of more than $2 million for payment of option fees for at least seven different properties, when he wasn't able to pay for them.
Apart from cheques, Low used the NRIC and driving license of a driver he had been in an accident with in 2018 to register for a car rental service account. He obtained the driver’s particulars after exchanging details with him for the accident.
Set up shell company
Low also set up a shell company called Fitness Tea.
One of Low’s victims, a 35-year-old woman, applied for a job at Fitness Tea, and was hired after an interview at a rented space. A day later, Low registered his marriage with the woman and cheated her into signing for phone lines for him. He claimed he would pay for these lines but he never did, using them to buy game credits.
The woman also introduced her brother for a job at Fitness Tea and her brother sent a copy of his NRIC and driving license to Low. Low used the details to register for a car rental service.
The woman told her brother that the “CEO” of Fitness Tea proposed to her, and that she would be promoted to manager. However, the brother’s wife later told the woman that Low was a scammer. The woman suffered a relapse of her bipolar disorder, with symptoms including “delusions of love”.
Low also scammed three men whom he met through gay dating apps and forums. He would pretend to be a rich man and ask his targets to sign up for phone lines. Among his lies included his mother owning a spa chain, his multiple properties, and his plans to start a bubble tea franchise and a pet cafe.
One victim, Kenneth, 24, was taken in by Low, who rented a car to ferry him around and claimed he wanted a serious relationship with him.
“The accused also told Kenneth that the accused’s father worked in the oil and gas industry in Korea... Kenneth’s interaction with the accused...gave Kenneth the impression that the accused was a wealthy individual who was sincere about entering into a relationship with him,” said the prosecution.
Low cheated this guy into signing up for phone lines then blocked him on his phone.
Around the same time, Low cheated a 25-year-old victim, Timothy, with the same ruse. He rented different cars to impress Timothy. He told Timothy he wanted to buy new cars and manipulated him into signing car sales agreements totalling more than $2.5 million.
In early 2020, Low dated a man, Desmond, when he had already been charged in court and was out on bail. He convinced Desmond into taking the fall for his offences.
On 9 September 2020, Low made a false police report about Desmond instructing him to commit the offences. He claimed that Desmond had threatened to harm him and his family. He lied that Desmond had raped him more than 15 times.
Ahead of a hearing for him to plead guilty on 21 January this year, Low forged a medical certificate, which his lawyer submitted in court.
Low caused more than $154,000 in losses, and only restituted $100.
His lawyers, Gino Hardial Singh and Deepansh Sharma, said that their client came from a troubled family. Low’s parents are divorced and he is estranged from his father.
In 2002, Low was sent to the Singapore Boys’ Home as his mother declared him to be beyond parental control. He was brought home after he was badly bullied.
Low is the primary caregiver for his mother, who has late-stage lung cancer, and his grandmother, who has dementia and depression.
When he was a child, he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Conduct Disorder as a child and assessed to have a borderline IQ of 71. He was diagnosed with major depression when he was 19, and with adjustment disorder three years ago.
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