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HomesingaporeWoman who scammed 10 people of S$880,000 and got lover to hand...

Woman who scammed 10 people of S$880,000 and got lover to hand over parents' life savings gets jail

SINGAPORE: A woman who duped 10 people of more than S$880,000 (US$646,000) and got her lover to cheat his parents into handing her their life savings was sentenced to jail for seven years and one month on Tuesday (Oct 31).

Joceyln Kwek Sok Koon, 49, had pleaded guilty to seven charges, mostly for cheating. Another 16 charges were considered in sentencing.

The prosecution had called Kwek a “serial cheat who preyed on all and sundry”, from her godparents to strangers on the internet.

She cheated her 10 victims over six years, committing offences even while she was on bail and scheduled for trial.

“She was a seasoned and skilled manipulator who repeatedly and brazenly flouted the law,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Phoebe Tan, seeking 91 months to 100 months’ jail for Kwek.

THE OFFENCES

Kwek got to know her lover and co-accused Lai Sze Yin in July 2016, when the 24-year-old man delivered a parcel to her home.

She began dating the younger man, though she was married with two children.

She created a persona of a young woman named Rachel Lam Xin Yi who was studying in the National University of Singapore to conceal her real identity from Lai’s family.

She never met them in person but chatted to them over the phone, growing close to them this way.

She later got Lai to trick his parents and younger sister into handing over S$150,000, pretending they were for investments or a car loan.

Lai’s mother lodged a police report in October 2018, saying her son’s girlfriend had cheated her of her entire savings and was uncontactable.

Kwek, who was declared bankrupt in January 2014, also cheated her own godmother into handing over more than 50 pieces of jewellery.

She claimed she would get the precious items cleaned, but instead pawned them and used the money to settle her debts.

Kwek also cheated two other men who fell in love with her without seeing her real face.

One of them, a 35-year-old Certis Cisco employee, fell for Kwek after chatting with her following an email enquiry Kwek sent Certis Cisco.

Despite realising that photos Kwek had sent him of her belonged to a Korean blogger, the man continued their relationship and transferred Kwek a total of S$48,000 between September 2017 and March 2019.

The other man who fell for Kwek’s wiles was a 39-year-old salesman working at a piano shop.

He got to know her on WhatsApp when looking for potential customers. Kwek portrayed herself as a rich person, showing him pictures of her purported property and buying expensive abalone from his friend in bulk.

She sent a photo of another person to the salesman, claiming it was her. 

Although the man realised it was someone else, as Kwek had accidentally sent him a full screenshot containing the person’s profile, he continued his relationship with her.

In total, he sent her about almost S$104,000, taking loans from his friends and family. He quit his job as he believed Kwek was offering him a job, and fell into financial trouble when this did not materialise.

He realised he had been cheated only when another scam victim contacted him.

Kwek had also targeted her husband’s British ex-colleague after she was charged.

She told him she needed money to claim her inheritance and assured him that she would return the cash, engaging lawyers to draft letters to make her claims appear valid.

She posed as a male lawyer to deceive the 66-year-old man and cheated him of S$338,600 with various ruses, including lying that she had leukemia.

Knowing that the man wanted to apply to become a permanent resident, Kwek lied to him that she would be his sponsor and fund the application.

However, this was just to buy herself time to repay him the money she owed.

In January 2021, the man lost his job at a bank and his employment pass was cancelled. He stayed in Singapore on Kwek’s assurance that his PR application had been approved, and faced investigations by the authorities for overstaying.

He fell into debt as a result of Kwek’s actions and his mental health deteriorated.

Kwek’s jail term was backdated to April 2022, when she was remanded.

Lai, the 24-year-old man, was sentenced to 15 months’ jail in June 2021 for his role in cheating his family. At the time, he promised his parents that he would work extremely hard to return all their life savings.

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