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Jail for woman who cheated S$1.7m from customers, sub-contractors in renovation scams

SINGAPORE — To entice potential customers to sign up for home renovation packages, Husniyati Omar promised them low quotations and freebies such as air-conditioning units.

Jail for woman who cheated S$1.7m from customers, sub-contractors in renovation scams

SINGAPORE — To entice potential customers to sign up for home renovation packages, Husniyati Omar promised them low quotations and freebies such as air-conditioning units.

However, after they parted with their cash — one of them to the tune of more than S$100,000 — the homeowners did not get to see the completion of the renovation works.

In total, Husniyati fleeced 89 victims of more than S$1.7 million. Apart from homeowners, her victims included sub-contractors, who were duped into performing renovation works, but did not get paid.

On Tuesday (Sept 25), the 40-year-old was jailed seven years and nine months.

She pleaded guilty last month to 21 counts of cheating and criminal breach of trust offences. Another 126 counts of similar offences were taken into account for sentencing purposes.

The court heard that from September 2015 to January 2016, Husniyati was a sales and marketing manager at a renovation company, and was tasked with finding new clients, and collecting and depositing payments.

Between Sept 28 and Dec 18 in 2015, she pocketed more than S$68,000 from eight customers, taking a cut from the contracts which she got for the company without its knowledge.

Then, some time in 2016, she asked her friend Christina Wong Hoi Khay to be the sole director and shareholder of a company named Carpentry Design Works.

Husniyati did so because she was an undischarged bankrupt then. A bankrupt in Singapore cannot be a director of a company, and cannot engage in business without informing all partners or clients that he or she is a bankrupt.

After Carpentry Design Works was set up, it was run by Husniyati and her husband Aszrul Yusoff at all times.

On the company’s Facebook page, Husniyati would regularly post advertisements promising low quotations and free air-conditioning units to customers who sign up with it.

When she met some of the victims, she would offer them other benefits such as free granite countertops for their kitchens.

She cheated 13 customers in all, and one paid S$102,728 for a renovation package.

The court heard that only hacking works were done in these homes, and no further works were arranged.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lee Ti-Ting said: “When the victims grew anxious as their intended deadline for the completion of renovation works loomed, and contacted (Husniyati) or her husband, (the couple) would claim that further payments were necessary.”

DPP Lee added that Husniyati cheated sub-contractors into performing renovation works, but had no intention of paying them. The amounts paid to the company’s four corporate bank accounts were quickly taken out, she said. 

The court was also told that some time in April last year, Husniyati started a second company, Chanteq Flooring Specialist, to be listed under the name of one Mohammad Khairuldin Abdullah.

In June last year, while she was facing police investigations for the earlier complaints from Carpentry Design Works, she entered into a design and craftsmanship agreement with Mr Kuthubeen Zaman, who wanted to renovate his home.

Calling herself “Serene”, Husniyati deceived Mr Kuthubeen into paying more than S$42,000 for the job.

Two toilets were renovated, and in addition, there were just hacking works done to the house.

Mr Kuthubeen eventually had to engage another renovation company to complete the job, and took two separate loans to pay for the renovation. Court documents did not state if the two loans were taken to pay both firms or just one.

Husniyati also cheated a sub-contractor into performing the works for Mr Kuthubeen’s house. The sub-contractor received a cheque which bounced, and could not contact Husniyati.

DPP Lee urged the court to impose a sentence of at least eight years, arguing that Husniyati’s “web of deception” was carefully planned.

“For many home-proud Singaporeans, buying and renovating a home is one of life’s biggest events. The homeowners entrusted (her) and her husband with their hard-earned savings and even took bank loans, so as to (get) their dream home,” she added.

The case for Husniyati’s husband is still before the courts.

It is not clear if Khairuldin or Wong have been prosecuted.

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