He spent 15 years paying fake $400,000 debt

They claimed Mr Tan Soy Kiang, 70, owed the government money.

And over 15 years, the two elderly women allegedly conned him into giving them more than $400,000 of his hard-earned money.

The New Paper's Judith Tan exposed the scam on Feb 8 and for that, she won the Feature of the Month Award.

The article sparked an outcry and set the Internet abuzz. In just two days, more than $50,000 was raised for Mr Tan through an online fund-raising campaign.

The total contribution hit $63,000 in March and a cheque was handed over to Mr Tan.

Mr Tan is believed to have handed over his Central Provident Fund savings and monthly salary to the two Singaporean women for years.

They allegedly told him that the money was to service a debt to the government. But no such "debt" existed.

ARREST

Following the article, one of the two women was arrested, and the other assisted with police investigations. The former was released on bail and is also assisting with police investigations.

While one of the two women admitted to cheating him, the other maintained her innocence and claimed she, too, had been conned by the same woman in a separate report.

Mr Tan, who cannot stand up straight because of a spinal injury, took on two jobs - as a cleaner and a pump attendant each paying him $1,000 a month - to repay the "debt".

As all his income went to the two women, he then had to borrow money from neighbours and his 73-year-old sister to feed himself.

Mr Tan's ordeal came to light only when his niece, Ms Pamela Lim, 39, a real estate agent, returned from Australia after living there for 15 years and discovered that he was giving every cent he earned to the two women.

Ms Lim got the women to confess in a video, which has been handed over to the police. Mr Tan now lives with Ms Lim, who is looking after him.

Ms Judith Tan said: "It had been a year between the time Ms Lim made a police report and I learnt about it. Then, it took me another three months to get everything rolling.

"I felt very sorry for the uncle."


This article was first published on Dec 20, 2015.
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