He offered hope to people by promising them jobs.
To secure work for them, Poh Teck Huat, 40, demanded that his victims from mainland China pay him an agent's fees and most were all too willing to pay "administrative fees".
Yesterday, Poh's lies caught up with him and he was sentenced to five years' corrective training, a tough prison regimen for repeat offenders, without remission for good behaviour.
The Singaporean had pleaded guilty to cheating and providing false information to a public servant.
District Judge Low Wee Ping told Poh, who had deceived more than 10 victims of about $30,000, that "a strong deterrent like (a) corrective sentence is for your reformation".
Poh began his scams in 2009, receiving amounts of between $150 and $10,000 each time.
Not satisfied with the hit-and-run jobs, Poh began cheating victims like Ms Chen Ping, 29, multiple times. To dupe her of more money, he lied that her job application had been rejected.
Aside from his money-for-jobs scam, which went on for 27 months, Poh tried to cheat DBS Bank in February 2011 by issuing cheques from his closed DBS account.
Investigations revealed that he had written two cheques - one for $1.5 million and another for $750,000.
While applying for a new passport, Poh had also lied to a Commissioner of Oaths on June 2011 at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority building.
Poh said he had lost his passport when in fact it had been impounded.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Vadi PVSS described Poh as a serial cheat with multiple victims on multiple occasions.
Mr Vadi said: "The accused has done a great disservice to our country. A country's reputation may be soiled when its locals take dishonestly the spoils of foreigners' toils."
From 2003 to 2007, Poh had a spate of convictions such as cheating, theft and forgery.
The prosecution proceeded with 12 charges against him, while 29 others were taken into consideration.
In recommending corrective training sentence, Mr Vadi said he believed that Poh would "have a better chance of successfully reversing (his) criminal tendencies as compared with a prison term".
Poh has not made any restitution to his victims.
This article was published on May 13 in The New Paper.
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