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Jail for man who 'borrowed' money from dozens of passersby at MRT stations, cheated them of S$28,000

SINGAPORE — Over almost four years, Byron Yeaw Li Xun exploited the kindness of strangers who lent him about S$28,000 in total to cover his purported transport and living expenses.

Jail for man who 'borrowed' money from dozens of passersby at MRT stations, cheated them of S$28,000
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SINGAPORE — Over almost four years, Byron Yeaw Li Xun exploited the kindness of strangers who lent him about S$28,000 in total to cover his purported transport and living expenses.

Leaw cheated 78 victims, many of whom were students, and convinced them that he was in a rush and needed money to get somewhere.

Once, he borrowed S$2,000 from a full-time national serviceman (NSF) who had only S$2,100 in his bank account.

He then tried to get his hands on the remaining S$100 before the victim grew suspicious.

On Friday (Sept 23), Yeaw, now 26, was jailed for one year after pleading guilty to five counts of cheating. Another 18 charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.

Yeaw has been remanded since March this year. His bail was revoked when he continued to cheat people after being arrested and charged in court.

He has since made full restitution to all of the victims.

The court heard that Yeaw began his spree in early 2019 when he was working for Singtel.

But he had personal financial issues and then decided to borrow money from strangers.

He would generally wait at MRT stations and approach passersby, lying that he had to travel to a distant location. He then asked them to help to check the cost of a taxi or private-hire vehicle to that location.

When he asked to borrow money to cover his transport cost, he provided his identification documents to reassure them.

If they offered to book the ride for him, he would say that he had to arrange it himself so he could claim the sum from his employer. He then spent the cash on his personal expenses.

If the victims made police reports or threatened to do so, Yeaw usually returned the money to them.

He was arrested and charged in court in March 2020. He was then re-arrested a year later when he began asking strangers for larger loans to fund his gambling habits.

Yeaw was eventually released on court bail on Aug 30, 2021. He continued his cheating spree till March this year when he was remanded.

As for the NSF who was duped, Yeaw approached him at Yew Tee MRT Station in February this year, claiming he had only 50 cents left in his bank account.

He also said that his company’s human resources department had made a mistake which meant that he did not receive his S$3,000 salary on time. He told the NSF that he needed to borrow money to survive till the end of the month.

The victim then lent Yeaw S$2,000. He lodged a police report when Yeaw asked for the remaining S$100 in his bank account.

On Friday, the prosecution sought 12 to 18 months’ jail for Yeaw, noting that he had “clearly developed a well-honed modus operandi” and that he tended to approach younger girls and students.

For each cheating offence, Yeaw could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

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