JB couple 'rack up $300k' with cancer sob story

JOHOR BARU - A couple from Johor Baru spent $750 to print fake newspaper reports, but gained at least $300,000 after using the "papers" to allegedly cheat Singaporeans.

The "newspaper cuttings", which claim that one of them is stricken with cancer, come in at least 10 versions and cost about RM2,000 (S$750) to print.

They are said to resemble news reports in Malaysian daily China Press, down to the layout, design and colour palette. They also carry the man's photograph and name.

These "reports" look so authentic that China Press published a clarification on Sunday, warning its readers not to be taken in by the couple.

The daily ran a similar story two months ago, after receiving a tip-off from a reader. It is understood that their victims come from Johor Baru and Singapore.

According to Lianhe Wanbao, the conman, who is in his 70s, goes by the nickname Lao Li (Old Li in Mandarin). His surname is actually Liu.

He is known to operate with an accomplice, a woman from Sabah in her 50s, who pretends to be his sister. The "siblings" show victims the "reports" claiming that he is suffering from nasopharyngeal cancer, and ask for donations for his "treatment".

A frequent punter at underground mahjong dens in Jalan Maju, Johor Baru, he is said to have flashed his fake news reports and boasted to fellow gamblers that it is very easy to cheat Singaporeans.

A source close to Lao Li told Wanbao: "He will play mahjong after cheating some (out of their) money. When he runs out of cash, he will go to Singapore to cheat again. In the past year, he has been to Bukit Batok, Woodlands, Yishun, Geylang, Paya Lebar and Pasir Panjang."

Last week, he allegedly showed off two cheques he had received as donations from "Singapore bosses" - one for $6,000 and the other for $4,000.

"He said Singaporeans are very gullible. Every time he goes to Singapore, he will bag a few hundred dollars. Some bosses will give a few thousand at one go."

The cheat allegedly told his creditor that he will have no problem repaying his loan, as he has conned Singaporeans of a total of $300,000.

The money has been spent on properties, cars, drinking, gambling and expensive meals.

The source claimed that his friend, who works as a welder in Singapore, has also been cheated of $500.