News

'Good friend' abuses trust

Part-time cleaner jailed two weeks for taking money from retiree's bank account

He trusted the part-time cleaner as they got along "very well".

So retiree Yap Chen Bock, 84, didn't expect his bank account to be emptied by Lee Teck Huat, 57.

Despite the theft, Mr Yap still feels that it is a shame that their friendship had gone sour.

Speaking to The New Paper from his one-room flat at Block 15, Lorong 7 Toa Payoh, Mr Yap said: "It is not easy to find a good friend, so I don't understand why he would choose to take my money like that."

In court yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Victor Lim said that Mr Yap met Lee last year at a senior citizen centre at the void deck of his block of flats.

Mr Yap said that somebody at the centre had told him that Lee was a good man who could be called on for help.

Mr Yap, who is wheelchair-bound, said: "He would bring me food and push me to the clinic when I needed to see the doctor.

"I would give him $10 every now and then for his help."

Eventually, Mr Yap trusted Lee so much that he asked for the younger man's help to withdraw $350 from his bank account every month.

The retiree, who does not have a family, gets $450 in government welfare subsidies each month.

Lee agreed and so the elderly man handed him his ATM card and passbook every month to make the withdrawals.

But the part-time cleaner abused his friend's trust and withdrew up to $200 extra every month between February and September this year.

After giving Mr Yap $350, he would pocket the remaining amount.

Mr Yap lost about $1,100 in all.

The offences came to light only in September, when Mr Yap noticed a change in Lee's attitude towards him.

DISTANT

Mr Yap said: "He suddenly became very distant, and would try to avoid me as much as possible."

Suspecting that his friend could be siphoning off his money, Mr Yap voiced his concerns to his nurse from Touch Community Services.

The nurse looked through his bank passbook and discovered that Lee had withdrawn more than the $350 agreed upon from Mr Yap's account on several occasions.

The court heard that Lee has since made full restitution to Mr Yap.

In his mitigation, Lee, who was not represented, told District Judge Lee Poh Choo that he has an elderly mother and he needed to pay for her stay in a nursing home.

The judge replied that he has five other siblings who could also care for her.

Lee was jailed for two weeks yesterday.

"It is not easy to find a good friend, so I don't understand why he would choose to take my money like that."

- Mr Yap Chen Bock, who did not expect that his bank account be emptied by Lee Teck Huat