A JOBLESS man helped himself to credit cards and cheque books that belonged to his family members, and used them to fund a shopping and gambling spree.
In less than three months, Nicholas Tian Weijie paid for a raft of items including iPhones, movie tickets and restaurant meals, causing losses amounting to $36,850.36. Only $700 has been recovered.
Yesterday, he was sentenced to 27 months in prison after admitting to 99 offences between last December and February this year.
These included misappropriating or stealing nine cards - most of which belonged to his father - and using some of them to cheat retailers into handing over their goods.
Tian, 28, also took five cheque books belonging to his twin brother and forged nine cheques to himself. He successfully cashed seven of them for $12,500.
The court heard that Tian took the cards and cheque books at the Housing and Development Board flat in Elias Road where he lives with his father, Tian Cheng Lock, 61, and brother, Douglas Tian Weijian.
Besides simply taking the items when no one was looking, for example, from a wallet and a table drawer, one scheme hatched by Tian entailed making a false report to the bank that a card was lost, and collecting the replacement from the letter box when it arrived.
Tian was arrested on Jan 14 after he tried to make a purchase with one of his father's cards at an IT shop in Sim Lim Square, but was visibly nervous when asked to verify if it belonged to him. His brother had also made a police report on Jan 3 after spotting unauthorised withdrawals from his bank accounts.
Tian committed 30 of his credit card-related offences despite being released on police bail two days later.
Pointing this out, Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Tan said Tian had disregarded the law and should be jailed for between 28 and 34 months.
It is understood that the elder Mr Tian, a businessman, was unaware of what was happening as he was in and out of Singapore at that time.
District Judge Toh Yung Cheong said Tian's offences involved credit card and cheque fraud, and were serious as they involved the financial sector.
Tian pleaded guilty to 16 charges in all, with 83 others taken into consideration.
For each charge of cheating retailers into handing over their property, Tian could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined. He faced the same punishment for each count of forgery to cheat.