Woman jailed 7 years 9 months for renovation scams totalling more than $1 million

Wan Ting Koh
Reporter
Singapore State Courts (AFP Photo/Mohd Fyrol)

While working at an interior design company, she misappropriated a total of $68,260 from clients.

When she left the job, Husniyati Omar, 40, created a shell renovation company with her husband and cheated 89 clients out of more $1 million for renovation works that they had promised to carry out but were only partially completed.

Even after she was arrested for the offences and released on police bail, Husniyati continued her cheating spree, creating a second company to cheat clients out of renovation fees.

On Tuesday (25 September), Husniyati was jailed seven years and nine months for her offences. She pleaded guilty to 21 counts, including cheating and criminal breach of trust as a clerk or servant. A total of 126 similar counts were taken into consideration for sentencing.

Her husband, 37-year-old Aszrul Yusoff, intends to claim trial to his charges.

Husniyati worked at Elegance Concept, an interior design company, from September 2015 to January 2016 as a sales and marketing manager where she was in charge of finding new clients, collecting payments and depositing payments received into the company’s bank account.

Husniyati misappropriated money shortly after joining the company. She committed the offences after her release from prison in September 2015 for a separate cheating offence for which she was convicted in June 2015.

Between September and December 2015, Husniyati misappropriated a total of $68,260 from eight of Elegance’s customers.

A police report was lodged on 1 February 2016 about Husniyati’s embezzlement.

After leaving the company, Husniyati created the company Carpentry with her husband. Husniyati asked her friend Christina Wong Hoi Khay, 22, to be its sole director and shareholder. and promised to pay her $3,000 a month. She sought Wong’s help as she was an undischarged bankrupt.

Husniyati opened an office and showroom in Telok Kurau Road and in Yishun in April 2016. She also set up a Facebook page where she posted low quotations and free air-conditioning units to clients who chose Carpentry to renovate their houses by a certain date. She threw in free granite kitchen counter-tops to attract customers.

The couple then promised customers that Carpentry would be able to complete the renovation works within a given deadline. However, Husniyati had no intention of honouring the contract.

Only hacking works were done in these victims’ homes. When the victims contacted the couple as the deadline neared, the couple would demand further payments.

Husniyati had also engaged sub-contractors to carry out renovation works even though she had no intention to pay them.

In total, Husniyati cheated 89 victims to into delivering cash amounting to a total of $1,796,474. Together with her husband, Husniyati frequently withdrew funds from Carpentry’s corporate accounts. No restitution was made to the victims.

Husniyati was arrested on 13 April last year and released on police bail when she committed the same type of offences using another company.

This time, she asked a former employee of Carpentry, Mohammad Khairuldin Abdullah, 32, to set up a new renovation company called Chanteq Flooring Specialist. While Khairuldin was listed as the company’s sole shareholder and director, Husniyati controlled the company’s bank account.

On 1 June last year, Husniyati, using the name “Serene”, deceived a victim into paying her for renovation works she had no intention of completing. A sub-contractor was also deceived into carrying out some works at the victim’s home. The sub-contractor received a cheque from Husniyati but the cheque bounced.

The victim paid Husniyati $42,260 for the works while Husniyati owed the sub-contractor $6,500.

The prosecution asked for a sentence of eight years, citing the large amount of money, the large number of charges and victims, and the lengthy period of the offences as aggravating factors.

“(Husniyati’s) actions have also caused untold hardship on some of the families who were not able to complete their home renovations without coughing up more monies, who had to stay indefinitely with their parents or in-laws until they have enough savings to engage another contractor… whose relationship with their spouses came under strain as a result of the stress of being the owners of an inhabitable property,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lee Ti-Ting.

The DPP added that Husniyati had reoffended shortly after her release from prison and committed fresh offences even while under police investigations.