Woman wins suit to get back S$210k from ‘boyfriend’ who lied that he needed money for ill father

SINGAPORE: A woman who believed she was in a romantic relationship with a man transferred money to him weekly after he told her that his father was sick and he was in debt from paying the medical bills.

After transferring S$212,850 to Derrick Ng Jing Yuan from 2014 to 2020, Lee Mei Lan found out that he had been deceiving her for years.

Ng, 41, is, in fact, the sole owner of a HDB flat, which he bought in May 2019 and was living in it with another woman. He also enjoyed a lavish lifestyle.

Lee, 42, successfully sued him to recover her money after she presented text messages showing that she was constantly concerned about helping him with money. She also submitted photographs showing that he drove a sports car and wore branded items and that his mother bought a Rolex watch.

In a judgment published on May 30, district judge Jasmin Kaur allowed Lee’s claim for fraudulent misrepresentation and deceit, and ordered Ng to pay her $210,050 in damages.

The judge said: “The defendant insists that these monies were gifts and they do not have to be returned to the plaintiff. This, however, is not a defence where the defendant has been found to have made false representations and the plaintiff gave him the monies while labouring under these false representations.”

Judge Kaur accepted that the relationship was genuine in the first few years.

“I would not, however, say the same about the concluding years of the relationship, where on the available evidence, it appears that the defendant regarded the plaintiff as nothing more than an ATM.”

Lee had given a total of $212,850 to Ng, but the judge found that transfers amounting to $2,800 in 2020 were not premised on false representations and deceit.

Lee met Ng in 2008. She said she believed that she was in a relationship with him from 2010 to 2020.

They went on dates, and talked about buying a matrimonial home and having babies. Ng also referred to them as “man and wife”.

In 2014, Lee began giving $650 a week to Ng as he had left his job as an insurance agent and told her he needed money to pay his father’s medical bills.

At the time, she was earning $3,000 a month, which meant she was giving him almost her entire salary.

She dipped into her savings to help him, and sometimes ate only biscuits to save money. She also applied for a part-time job to earn extra money.

Ng did not introduce Lee to his friends and family, and did not tell her that his father had died in August 2018.

In August 2019, Lee’s mother, who did not know that she was giving money to Ng, noticed her daughter’s savings were dwindling and locked away the money.

When Lee told Ng that she could no longer transfer money to him, his attitude towards her changed – he no longer went out with her or texted her unless it was to ask for money.

In November 2020, Lee hired a private investigator to look into Ng’s background.

She learnt that Ng worked for his cousin’s company and lived with a woman in his well-renovated HDB flat.

Lee, who was represented by Keith Hsu and Nico Lee of Emerald Law, sued Ng in 2021.

Ng, who was represented by Tan Cheng Kiong, denied he had made fraudulent misrepresentations.

He maintained that Lee was his only girlfriend at the time, although they were not intimate.

Ng contended that it was only when their relationship broke down in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that Lee asked for her money back.

Ng presented some of his mother’s medical bills, which showed that only about $600 had to be paid in cash. He did not present his father’s medical bills or evidence that he was making payment towards them.

Judge Kaur found that both of Ng’s parents may have been ill, but he has not shown that he was taking care of them financially and that he needed money for their medical bills.

She rejected Ng’s claims that his feelings for Lee were genuine, citing Lee’s text messages to Ng after she told him she could not give him any more money.

In the messages, Lee pleaded for him to return to her. But these were largely ignored by Ng, who replied sporadically to demand that she stop bothering him.

“Once the plaintiff was no longer of any use to him, the defendant cast her aside, sending text messages only to ask her to transfer money to him,” said the judge. - The Straits Times/ANN

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