2 years' jail for woman who posed as lawyer, cheated then-boyfriend's mum of S$28,000 in 'legal fees'
SINGAPORE — Aware that her then boyfriend's mother was going through a divorce and required legal assistance, 28-year-old Siti Suhailah Halil lied to the woman that she was a lawyer.
- Siti Suhailah Halil, 28, was sentenced to two years' jail after pleading guilty to three charges of cheating
- She had lied to her then boyfriend's mother that she was a lawyer
- The woman paid Siti S$27,980 in exchange for "legal services"
- Siti also cheated two other victims by promising them jobs at a law firm where she claimed to work
SINGAPORE — Aware that her then-boyfriend's mother was going through a divorce and required legal assistance, 28-year-old Siti Suhailah Halil lied to the woman that she was a lawyer.
Siti then cheated her of S$27,980, claiming that she needed the money to prepare paperwork, make court applications and arrange legal consultations.
She also cheated two other victims by promising them a job at a law firm.
Siti was sentenced to two years' jail after pleading guilty on Friday (Jan 6) to three charges of cheating and dishonestly inducing a delivery of property. Three other charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
According to court documents, the first victim was Ms Rosmawati Md Saidan, 52, who was the mother of Siti's former boyfriend.
Sometime in December 2017, Siti lied to Ms Rosmawati that she was a lawyer.
She knew that Ms Rosmawati needed legal assistance in relation to her late parents' Central Provident Fund monies, as well as her divorce proceedings.
Siti told Ms Rosmawati that she would be able to provide legal assistance in exchange for certain fees.
As Siti was her son's girlfriend at the time, she trusted her and decided to seek her "legal assistance".
Between December 2017 and September 2019, Ms Rosmawati transferred money to Siti on at least 126 occasions in exchange for "legal services".
Court documents did not state what the total value of these transactions was.
Siti claimed that she needed this money to prepare paperwork, make court applications and arrange legal consultations.
On the several occasions that Ms Rosmawati confronted the accused and demanded proof of her legal services, Siti told her that she could be fined or arrested if she failed to pay the legal fees.
Afraid of the consequences, Ms Rosmawati continued to transfer money to Siti, making at least 81 transfers totalling S$27,980 between Jan 3, 2018 and Dec 31, 2018.
Ms Rosmawati finally confronted Siti again on Oct 4 in 2019, demanding proof that she was a lawyer.
When Siti was unable to do so, Ms Rosmawati lodged a police report on the same day.
'PROMISED A JOB'
Siti's second victim was Syaridzwan Hasni, who was a friend of her husband.
She had lied to the 28-year-old that she was a lawyer at Dentons Rodyk and could get him a job there. Dentons Rodyk is a law firm in Raffles Place.
However, he would first have to complete certain legal and management courses at Kaplan Singapore, a private education firm.
Siti told him that she could help him enrol for the courses and asked him to transfer an amount of money for the enrolment fees.
Syaridzwan agreed and made at least 36 transactions amounting to S$32,460 to Siti between December 2021 and March 2022.
Court documents stated that she used the money for her own personal expenses and to pay off her debts.
Suspecting that something was amiss as he did not receive any invoice or receipt for the payments made, Syaridzwan contacted the law firm and Kaplan sometime around April 2022.
Realising that he had been cheated, Syaridzwan lodged a police report
Siti also used the same method to cheat her acquaintance, Mohammed Na'im M Mohammed Nazir, 28, of S$1,680.
'EXPLOITED HER TRUST'
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Thaker sought a sentence of 24 to 28 months' imprisonment.
"The accused exploited the victim's then-personal circumstances for her own gain... and also exploited her trust," said DPP Thaker.
She added that Siti had offended again while under investigations for her previous cheating charges, showing that she was "unfazed" by the criminal investigations against her as she had continued to offend in a similar manner.
Addressing the court through a video link, Siti pleaded for leniency and promised to return the money after she served her sentence .
However, District Judge Soh Tze Bian said that in order for her mitigation plea to be taken into consideration for sentencing, Siti must have paid the full amount before she commenced her sentence.
"You ought to have paid (the amount) in full before and not when you have already been found out or under investigation," he said.
District Judge Soh also asked her if she had been trained in law.
To which she replied: "No, but I did take short courses at Kaplan for a diploma in legal services. I completed the course in 2014."
District Judge Soh agreed with the prosecution's proposed sentence and sentenced her to two years' jail.
For each offence of cheating and dishonestly inducing a delivery of property, Siti could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.