Three women and two men from China conspired to cheat two elderly women of cash and jewellery totalling $439,000, a court heard yesterday.
Two of them were arrested 31/2 months later when they returned to Singapore. The rest, on seeing them detained, fled and caught a flight home.
Yesterday, Li Lianying, 50, pleaded guilty to two charges while Li Peng, 45, a seafood business operator, admitted to one of the two charges.
The victims, Madam Chua Peck Har, 66, and Madam Goh Kah Keow, 72, were cheated of $37,550 and $401,450 in cash and jewellery respectively.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Vadivalagan Shanmuga said the five arrived here from Hong Kong on Nov 18. On the morning of Nov 20, they were at Roxy Square in East Coast Road when they spotted Madam Goh alone at a nearby bus stop.
While Li Peng and the other male accomplice stood at a distance, Li Lianying approached Madam Goh and started to cry.
She claimed her daughter was in a Taiwan hospital with an incurable disease and asked if the victim knew a particular medium nearby who could help her daughter. Li's accomplice Li Cai Hong, 45, then joined them and claimed to know the medium, and offered to take them to him.
Just then, a third woman, Li Lian Ying, 40, approached them.
One of the two Chinese nationals identified her as the medium's granddaughter and they pleaded with her to help Li Lianying.
Li Lian Ying then told them to wait at the bus stop while she sought advice from the medium.
When she returned, she said the victim was possessed by evil spirits that were trying to harm her, and that a "high priest'' was needed to get rid of them.
When the victim asked Li Lian Ying if the medium could help, Li Lian Ying told her that she needed to have all her personal savings and jewellery to be prayed over. Madam Goh, a devout Buddhist, agreed to it.
She went home with Li Cai Hong and returned with her jewellery, cash and all her money which she drew from banks nearby. She then placed her valuables and cash totalling $401,450 into a green bag that one of the Chinese nationals handed her.
When she closed her eyes during a short prayer, the bag was switched, and a replacement bag was handed to the victim.
Madam Goh was then told to meet them again at that bus stop on Nov 23. She was also instructed not to open the bag until then or the prayers would be rendered "void'' and the evil spirits would return. The five Chinese nationals left Singapore that night.
A day earlier, they had cheated Madam Chua Peck Har of her cash and valuables at People's Park Complex.
The duo will be back in court on June 19 to be sentenced.
This article was first published on May 31, 2014.
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