Man cheats 7 senior citizens out of more than $2,000

Man cheats 7 senior citizens out of more than $2,000

You would expect senior citizens like Madam Aminah to be treated with love and respect.

At 82, the widow can proudly say she raised nine children and experienced a war and turmoil prior to Singapore's independence.

In her golden years, Madam Aminah (not her real name) is content to spend time with the people she loves.

Unfortunately, one serial cheat has manipulated simple, kind-hearted senior citizens like Madam Aminah.

In April last year, Jumahri Suriman came knocking at Madam Aminah's door with an offer of help.

The brief encounter with Jumahri at her three-room flat in Ghim Moh would prove costly for Madam Aminah, as she was conned of $200 and had her $300 mobile phone stolen.

She told The New Paper in Malay: "We don't work or earn much, and yet he had the audacity to cheat harmless people like me.

"He is still young and able-bodied. I'm sure he would get more money by working than cheating people."

We're not identifying Madam Aminah as she lives alone in a flat she has owned since 1976.

Some of her children give her enough money each month for her expenses.

Investigations revealed that Jumahri, then, 56, had been cheating Malay senior citizens from April to August last year.

In all, the former cleaner, who was sentenced to 11 months' jail, pocketed $2,298 from seven victims.

While the amount may be considered small, District Judge Jasvender Kaur said in her judgment on Sept 15 that "simple-minded elderly need to be protected".

Figures show an increase in the number of seniors falling victim to cheats in the last three years, the police said.

That morning in April, Jumahri told Madam Aminah he was from the community centre and that he was looking for a Malay woman with a name that sounded like "Amnah".

Madam Aminah said: "I told him 'you got the wrong flat because my name is Aminah'. It was then he said he got the right address because it was 'Aminah' he was looking for."

MISTAKE

She admitted making the mistake of letting Jumahri into her home.

"His shoes were polished and he wore a long-sleeved shirt," Madam Aminah added.

"He was polite and looked trustworthy."

Jumahri told Madam Aminah that he could get her financial aid worth $800. To qualify for the scheme, he told her he needed to examine her identity card (IC).

But she noticed he held her identity card in a strange way - by touching only the tips of the card.

She said: "Now that I know he was a cheat, I suppose he did not want to leave his fingerprints on my IC."

To get the $800, Jumahri told Madam Aminah she had to make an "advance payment" of $200 to him.

When she went to her room to retrieve the $200, he pretended to make a call on his mobile phone to check on her eligibility for payment.

While she was in her room, Madam Aminah believes Jumahri took the opportunity to steal her mobile phone, which she had left near the sofa.

She said: "I believed him because he said he would return in the evening to give me a receipt. Before he left, he had even advised me to keep the gate locked.

"When I realised I was duped, I was angry and cursed him, hoping that he would get caught."

Her anger later gave way to fear and paranoia, said one of Madam Aminah's daughters, who gave her name only as Madam Azizah, 52.

Her family now makes it a point not to leave Madam Aminah alone in the evenings. Her daughters take turns to visit her or arrange for Madam Aminah to sleep over at their homes.

Madam Azizah, a secretary, said: "She was afraid that he would return.

"For a while she stopped going to the prayer hall at a nearby block. Since the incident, she keeps the door closed at all times."

The family is glad that Madam Aminah was not hurt. Jumahri could have used violence knowing that she was all alone, said Madam Azizah.

She added: "My mother is not rich but she lives comfortably with the allowance she gets from my siblings.

"I can't imagine what it's like for the other senior citizens who may not be financially stable. Losing $200 could mean losing the world to them."


This article was first published on Oct 7, 2014.
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