SINGAPORE – A woman whom the prosecution described as a “heartless con artist” cheated two people out of more than $2.1 million by using fictitious investment schemes involving foreign currency exchange.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jonathan Tan said in his submissions: “They were so deceived that they not only parted with their own funds, but also obtained funds from their friends and family due to a genuine belief in the accused’s false representations.
“The accused used (the monies) for her own expenses and did not make any restitution to the victims, causing them to suffer debilitating losses that they are still grappling with to date.”
Wu Hong, 41, was sentenced to 12 years’ jail on Tuesday. District Judge Soh Tze Bian had earlier convicted her of five cheating charges after a trial.
The Chinese national, who committed the offences between 2016 and 2019, dishonestly induced Mr Tam Kwong Yoeng, 50, to deliver a total of more than $1.4 million and duped Ms Soh Choon Heong, 61, into handing over $734,000.
Wu, who has no known employment, got to know Mr Tam at a pub in 2013, and was introduced to Ms Soh by a fengshui master on an unspecified date.
DPP Tan said Wu deceived them with fictitious investment schemes to provide visitors who are Chinese nationals with Singapore currency for their expenditure here, particularly for gambling in local casinos.
“She had enticed them to ‘invest’ with her by purporting to offer attractive returns,” he added.
According to court documents, two prominent media personalities, identified as Tan Lee Peng (Chen Liping) and Lim Mooi Keow (Lin Meijiao), gave Ms Soh a total of around $460,000 to invest with Wu. The prosecutor told Judge Soh that Wu’s representations were false because the purported investment schemes did not exist.
DPP Tan added: “She also had no explanation (as to) why she failed to provide any information about her alleged clients on whose behalf she claimed to have gambled for, both in her statements and at trial.”
During the trial, Mr Tam testified that Wu had dishonestly duped him into handing over the monies by using two schemes. He also said he persisted in giving money to Wu because he trusted her.
DPP Tan told the court: “In fact, this was why he failed to keep any formal record of his transactions with her.”
The DPP added that even after Mr Tam did not receive the returns as promised and felt suspicious, he still trusted Wu to return the funds. But he later recorded their phone conversations as evidence because she was evading him.
Mr Tam finally made a police report against Wu in January 2018.
Ms Soh testified that she had also trusted Wu. She alerted the police in February 2020.
DPP Tan said Wu had cast aspersions against the pair during the trial, claiming that they were framing her.
For each count of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.
In response to Straits Times queries, Lim’s manager said: “On her behalf, we’d like to thank everyone for your concern. As she’d like to close this chapter and move past this, we’ll not be taking on any interviews. Thank you.”
- Additional reporting by Sarah Koh
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.