Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cheat Conned 127 People

Source : The Straits Times, April 8, 2009

PAYBACK has come in the form of a jail term for a serial rental-scam artist, Eric Heng Jit Siang, who conned 127 people, mainly foreigners and permanent residents.

Heng would pose as the owner of a property seeking to rent it out, milking the tenant for a deposit on the rent, and then pulling a disappearing act.

Eric Heng Jit Siang (left) conned 127 people, mainly foreigners and permanent residents. -- PHOTO: SPF

Using both landed properties and flats he had rented, the 33-year-old conned over $242,500 in rental deposits between last April and January out of 127 people.

He was jailed on Wednesday for six years and three months after pleading guilty to 40 counts of deception and three of other crimes.

The court heard that he rented 10 properties across Singapore, got hold of the keys and then placed advertisements in newspapers and in train stations seeking tenants.

When people responded to his advertisements, he posed as the owner of these properties and arranged to show them the units.

When the tenancy agreement was signed - and each unit was 'rented' out to more than one house-hunter - he collected money from each of them as a deposit on the rent or the utility bill.

The victims only realised they had been taken for a ride when they tried to move in and realised that they were not the only ones who had 'rented' the place. Heng then made himself scarce.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Moses Tan pushed for a deterrent sentence, saying the offences were 'deliberate' and not made in 'a moment of folly'.

In sentencing, District Judge Eddy Tham reprimanded Heng: 'What you have done is despicable. It has caused a lot of anxieties to these people.'

Read the full story in Thursday's edition of The Straits Times.

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