Fugitive property agent jailed for cheating

Fugitive property agent jailed for cheating
He had pleaded guilty to deceiving Madam Wang Chunling, 60, a Chinese national, into believing that a shophouse in South Bridge Road was for sale and inducing her to give him a cheque for $90,000 on July 12 , 2012.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

A property agent was on the run for almost two years after he cheated a Chinese national of $90,000, and misappropriated a car worth $230,000 belonging to another. Yesterday, Lau Wing Kuan, 40, was jailed for 38 months.

He had pleaded guilty to deceiving Madam Wang Chunling, 60, a Chinese national, into believing that a shophouse in South Bridge Road was for sale and inducing her to give him a cheque for $90,000 on July 12 , 2012.

He had also admitted to misappropriating the Mercedes-Benz coupe of Ms Huang Luyang, and forging the 27-year-old Singapore permanent resident's signature on a cheque for $270,000.

The court heard that in July 2012, Madam Wang issued Lau a cheque for $40,000, as the 1 per cent option money, to buy a property.

A few days later, he persuaded her to forfeit the $40,000 and to buy another property in South Bridge Road instead, even though he knew it was not for sale.

On July 12 that year, Madam Wang agreed and issued another cheque for $90,000, being the 2 per cent option money, to buy the South Bridge Road property.

She signed the cheque and handed it to Lau, who filled in the remaining details. The cheque was made out to Ms Huang.

Separately, some time in June that year, before leaving for China to work, Ms Huang entrusted her Mercedes-Benz coupe to Lau.

He was supposed to send the car for servicing and return the car keys to her friend after that.

When Ms Huang returned to Singapore a few months later, she found out that the car had been sold and was no longer registered under her name. She made a police report after failing to contact Lau.

Investigations showed that Lau had sold the car to a second-hand dealer for $186,000.

He had earlier couriered a Land Transport Authority authorisation form, among other documents, to Ms Huang in China to sign.

To get his hands on the sale proceeds, he opened a bank account in Ms Huang's name by forging her signature on the application form. He then banked in the money from the sale of the car as well as the $90,000 cheque from Madam Wang.

Later, he used the cheque book and forged Ms Huang's signature on a cheque for $270,000, issued it to himself and encashed it.

He used $83,000 to pay off personal debts before fleeing to Malaysia with the remaining money.

Lau's lawyer Louis Joseph said his client had cooperated with the authorities upon surrendering himself. He has two young children, one of whom is severely autistic and is a danger not only to others but also himself .

Lau could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined for cheating; and jailed for up to seven years and fined for criminal breach of trust.

 


This article was first published on July 10, 2015.
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