Serial conman given 7 years' preventive detention over staycation scams on Carousell

John Leong Kim Onn, 55, pleaded guilty to seven out of 22 cheating charges. (Photo: Getty Images)
John Leong Kim Onn, 55, pleaded guilty to seven out of 22 cheating charges. (Photo: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A serial conman who duped victims into parting with nearly $10,000 for bogus room rentals and hotel stays was on Thursday (25 July) sentenced to seven years’ preventive detention.

John Leong Kim Onn, 55, pleaded guilty to seven out of 22 cheating charges.

Leong hatched a plan to cheat people via online marketplace Carousell in 2017. He created an account under the username ‘chingchaitioho’ and advertised room rentals and hotel stays.

Between September and December that year, 22 unwitting Carousell users fell prey to his scam and were duped of $9,124.

After receiving money from the victims, Leong became uncontactable.

One victim who saw Leong’s advertisement for a stay at the Marina Bay Sands hotel for three days and two nights transferred him $600.

Another victim gave the conman $920 for two rooms at the same hotel for one night.

Yet another victim transferred the trickster $604 for a stay at Hard Rock Hotel at Resorts World Sentosa for three days and two nights.

Leong also cheated victims by advertising the flat he was staying at, unbeknownst to his landlord.

He would give victims a tour of the flat in Jalan Kukoh and ask for a $700 deposit to rent a room, before becoming uncontactable.

The police traced Leong via his mobile number and bank account details.

He is out on bail of $40,000, pending an appeal against his sentence.

Preventive detention is a sentencing option meant to protect the public from recalcitrant offenders, who must serve a prison term of between seven and 20 years in full with no reduction for good behaviour.

Leong has a string of offences dating back to 1982, mainly for theft, cheating and criminal breach of trust.

His last conviction in 2002 was for forgery for the purpose of cheating, for which he was sentenced to 10 years’ corrective training. Like preventive detention, offenders sentenced to corrective training must serve their sentence of between five and 14 years in full with no remission for good behaviour.

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