For 60 years, Madam Goh Kah Keow (above) lived a frugal life, saving as much money as she could as a cleaner while taking on odd jobs such as sweeping floors, collecting newspapers and even helping people do their laundry.
The 74-year-old, who has never married, does not have any formal education as her family was too poor to send her to school.
Through her toil and sweat, Madam Goh managed to save more than $400,000 in cash and jewellery, which she set aside for the day she stops working.
But her hard-earned life savings vanished in an instant after she helped a woman "in distress".
Unknown to her, the woman was part of a gang of five Chinese nationals who had targeted her in an elaborate scam.
Two of the five - Li Lianying, 50, and Li Peng, 45 - were jailed yesterday for cheating Madam Goh and another victim.
"To earn that money, I worked till my fingers were bent and my skin became like tree bark," she told The New Paper in Mandarin at her home yesterday.
"I hate them to death for cheating me. That money is tainted with my blood and tears. They will get their retribution."
On Nov 20 last year, Li Lianying, who was crying, approached Madam Goh who was waiting at a bus stop near Roxy Square in Marine Parade.
Madam Goh, who lives alone in a nearby studio flat, recalled: "She told me that her daughter was ill and that she was a foreigner from Taiwan and did not know where to go or what to do to get help.
"Two other women came along and claimed to know a good medium and they could take us to him. I followed them because I felt sorry for (Li Lianying).
"Her tears cost me my life savings. All those fake tears. She also cried when she was in court, but it's all an act," said Madam Goh, who had read about the court proceedings in a Chinese newspaper.
One of the women told Madam Goh that she had to labour all her life and had not got married because evil spirits were following her. What the woman said next spooked Madam Goh - the spirits would soon bring harm to her.
Fearing for her life, Madam Goh agreed to follow their instructions to get rid of the spirits. They gave her a white bag and told her to put all her money and jewellery in it and bring it to them.
So she withdrew all her savings of about $400,000 from three banks. She then put the money and the little jewellery she had - a pair of gold earrings and a gold ring worth about $1,000 - into the bag.
When she met the women, they held a "prayer session" with her at a corner in Roxy Square. They told her not to open the bag and to meet them again at the bus stop three days later.