Fortune teller cheats three people of $50,000
He was a fortune teller who cheated people of their fortunes.
In just four months, he spun a web of lies to three people and made off with almost $50,000 worth of their jewellery and hard-earned cash.
Some of that money was used to satisfy his gambling habits.
Yesterday, Soh Kok Ping, 49, was jailed 20 months for cheating and committing criminal breach of trust.
Soh operated a makeshift fortune teller stall at Block 102, Yishun Avenue 5 and was also a temple medium.
He met one of his victims, Madam Lily Tan, 61, in January 2013 and she hired him to perform prayers for her husband, who had suffered a stroke and was wheelchair-bound.
After Soh performed the prayers, Madam Tan felt there was some improvement in her husband's health and began trusting the accused.
When her husband was hospitalised six months later, she fretted about her financial situation and confided in Soh.
Soh then offered to help ascertain the value of some of her gold jewellery at a pawn shop.
But when Madam Tan asked him for her jewellery back the next day, Soh said he had already pawned them for $8,890 without her permission.
He had spent the money on his housing expenses and on gambling.
Madam Tan's husband died in July 2013 and Soh asked a depressed Madam Tan to help out at his temple to take her mind off her grief.
He approached her later that month with a fake business venture and got her to hand over $30,000 as an investment.
He claimed he had given the money to his friend, but never did.
Court papers said he cheated another woman, Madam Margaret Lee, 50, of $10,000 by lying to her about a rice donation drive he was organising.
He also cheated a Madam Quey Yong Fua, 56, of $500, claiming he was collecting donations to buy food for the poor.
Last month, Soh pleaded guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust and two counts of cheating, with one other charge taken into consideration for sentencing.
But Soh tried to retract his guilty plea yesterday, claiming it was "a matter of borrowing money between friends".
But District Judge Jasvender Kaur said his application was not valid and rejected it.
The judge said in sentencing that what Soh did was despicable, particularly to Madam Tan, who is now 61 and would not have the means to earn back her money.
Madam Tan, who was present in court, declined to speak to The New Paper after the hearing.
Her friend spoke on her behalf outside the courtroom and said all Madam Tan hopes for is to get back her jewellery, which has sentimental value.
On Soh's sentence, he said: "It's too light for a terrible, terrible person who did this to her."