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Man convicted of skimming S$1.8m from 21 victims

SINGAPORE — A serial cheater who singlehandedly swindled almost S$1.8 million from 21 victims was today (Jan 15) convicted of 26 charges, which included cheating, criminal misappropriation, and creating counterfeit certificates of stamp duty, among others.

SINGAPORE — A serial cheater who singlehandedly swindled almost S$1.8 million from 21 victims was today (Jan 15) convicted of 26 charges, which included cheating, criminal misappropriation, and creating counterfeit certificates of stamp duty, among others.

Another 41 charges against Sim Tee Peng, 39, will be taken into consideration when he is sentenced on Feb 12.

Pressing for a sentence of seven to eight years’ jail, the prosecution said that Sim’s egregious conduct, which involved “skillful manipulation” and victimised many, warranted a “deterrent and retributive” jail term.

A district court heard that Sim — who was “helping out” at various law firms between June 2011 to September 2012 without receiving any salary or commission — would inform property buyers that he had issued personal cheques to make stamp duty payments and other conveyancing fees on their behalf, and then request them to make their cheques payable to him or WW Hub, which he is a director of.

WW Hub’s bank account was used by Sim for his personal purposes, the court was told.

To gain some of his victims’ trust and confidence, Sim tricked them by introducing himself as an advocate and solicitor, and even used the title “partner” on name cards given to property buyers, when he never had a practicing certificate.

He would also present bogus documents, such as false invoices using a law firm’s letterhead, and copies of unissued cheques, to dupe victims into believing that he had made the payments.

Sim then used the money from these clients to fund personal expenses, such as buying a BMW 5 Series car.

Some of the money was also used to “repay” other victims in what the prosecution described as an attempt to perpetuate the scam. On one occasion in January 2012, he stole a cheque valued at S$20,061 paid by a client to law firm Troy Yeo & Co, to pay for stamp duties of two other clients.

These “repayments”, amounting to S$2.3 million, should not be considered mitigating factors, urged deputy public prosecutor Muhamad Imaduddien, as they were “not evidence of genuine, heartfelt remorse”.

DPP Muhamad also called Sim a persistent criminal offender, who offended over a period of 14 months. Despite being initially requested to assist police investigations in January 2012, Sim continued to offend after he was released on bail.

Sim’s cheating scams “bear the hallmarks of careful planning and manipulation”, and many of his offences were undetected for a long time due to his deceptive tactics, said DPP Muhamad.

He also urged the court not to treat Sim as a first offender despite his clean record. “He had committed multiple offences involving multiple victims over an extended period of time. Public interest considerations in preventing unscrupulous tricksters like (Sim)… outweigh the absence of antecedents.”

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