Cheat jumps bail and keeps on stealing

Cheat jumps bail and keeps on stealing

A property agent cheated a client of S$52,800 in 2010 and 2011 and later managed to jump bail. But he came unstuck when his then-girlfriend reported him to the police for stealing money from her.

Alvin Khong Kian Poh, 35, ended back in court - facing 15 charges: three for cheating, eight for theft, four for criminal breach of trust. The most serious of those - cheating - carry a maximum penalty of 10 years jail and a fine.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Rachel Lee proceeded on six of the charges and took the rest into account. Khong was yesterday sentenced to a total of about one year in jail, backdated to Feb 6.

Court documents show Khong lied to a client- tenant, tricking him into making advance payments for multiple months' rent on the pretext of being able to secure cheaper rent in exchange.

Khong was not authorised to collect such payments, and the property's co-owners were unaware of this practice. Khong even issued "receipts" to the tenant, forging signatures of the co-owners. He pocketed most of the money.

Khong managed to get S$52,800 via his scam before it was uncovered when the property owners and the tenant compared notes. A police report was made in May 2011, and he was arrested and let out on bail.

In June last year, he jumped bail and lay low for a few months. He then used his girlfriend's ATM card to make unauthorised withdrawals of S$3,550, most of which he took to gamble at a casino.

When he hit the card's limit, he lied to two acquaintances, seeking their help by transferring funds to them from his girlfriend's account. The acquaintances then withdraw funds for him.

Khong did this four times to get S$2,750, in a case of criminal breach of trust. He was arrested after his then-girlfriend made a police report.

In mitigation, Khong's defence counsel Amarick Gill of Trident Law said his client later repaid all the money to his then-girlfriend, and paid S$20,000 to the tenant for the cheating offences.

Khong - whom Mr Gill said has had seven previous brushes with the law dating back to 1994 for offences including drug consumption and vehicle theft - had also lost his job as a real estate agent and the relationship with the second victim.

Mr Gill added that his client was remorseful and thankful for the relatively light sentence.

This article was first published on JUNE 25, 2014.
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