Singapore

Man jailed for cheating 7 people in face mask scam

A Singaporean man was sentenced yesterday to 3½ years' jail for masterminding a face mask scam to cheat seven people of more than $40,000.

Jason Chian, 42, pleaded guilty to seven charges for scamming four victims of more than $20,000 through bogus bulk orders of masks.

Another 10 charges - some of which involved the other three victims - were also taken into consideration in his sentencing.

Chian had initially decided to venture into the sale of surgical masks in January, after observing an increase in demand for masks brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

But by February, he was experiencing difficulties in securing supplies of masks due to the worldwide shortage.

Nonetheless, Chian used the down payment monies he had earlier received for personal expenses.

Things escalated in mid-February when he was added to a WhatsApp group set up by one of the victims, which included other individuals that Chian would later go on to scam.

In this group chat, Chian introduced himself as a surgical face mask supplier and claimed that he was able to get supplies from Batam and Malaysia.

50% DOWN PAYMENT

The court heard that Chian required the victims to place a 50 per cent down payment for their orders, and to convince the victims of the authenticity of their orders, he would issue fictitious invoices forged on his mobile phone.

In total, Chian received $41,288.83 in down payments from seven victims between Feb 11 and March 5 this year.

He failed to deliver on all the orders.

His misdeeds came to light when one of the victims - Ms Pang, a 39-year-old Singaporean - lodged a police report on March 9, saying she had not received her order for 150 boxes of surgical face masks after placing a 50 per cent down payment.

Subsequently, at least five similar police reports were made.

This is not Chian's first brush with the law.

He was convicted of forgery and criminal breach of trust in 2011 , and again in 2013 of cheating and criminal breach of trust.

COURT & CRIME