SINGAPORE, May 13 (The Straits Times/ANN): He was released from jail last year for his last cheating offence, but in a matter of months, serial offender Ng Thiam Choon, 72, again tricked multiple victims into giving him money by lying that he had an emergency.
Ng, who has spent the past five decades in and out of prison, pleaded guilty on Thursday (May 12) to seven charges of cheating from his latest spate of offences involving more than S$1,300.
Another 13 cheating charges will be taken into consideration.
In court, District Judge Eddy Tham questioned Ng why the jail time over the past 46 years failed to stop him from cheating and called for a corrective training suitability report to be made.
This is a prison regime for repeat offenders without the usual one-third remission for good behaviour.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Yee Jia Rong listed seven instances of Ng cheating victims of money of around $200 each between July 2021 and February this year.
In July 2021, he cheated a shop attendant in Bugis Village of $180 by lying that he had an accident and needed to pay the other party urgently. Ng handed her a phone number to assure her he was contactable, but he never returned.
In another example, Ng told a man in Jurong in February this year that he could not find his wife and asked for $200, claiming he could not withdraw any money.
DPP Yee said: "In actual fact, the accused was divorced and had no intention of returning the money to (the victim). "
In his submissions, the DPP detailed Ng's history of cheating, which dates back to 1976, when he was jailed for five months.
Since then, Ng had been detained for at least 18 years under preventive detention over cheating offences as well. In preventive detention, a recalcitrant offender receives a substantial period of imprisonment to protect the public.
Suggesting a corrective training suitability report for Ng, DPP Yee added that the latest spate of offences were committed soon after his release from jail last year.
Ng pleaded with the judge for leniency. He said he cheated the victims only to buy food and because he could not find a job. He added that he suffered from chronic illnesses and wished to spend time with his brothers who were sick.
Judge Tham said to Ng: "What does the court do with you? You've been in and out of prison for a long time and the court is shocked that all your past imprisonments do not seem to deter you from committing such offences."
He added: "You are repeating the same old story again that you can't find a job and things are hard, but that is life."
Ng, who is remanded, will return to court for sentencing in June.
Those convicted of cheating can face up to 10 years in jail and be fined. - The Straits Times/ANN