Con man dupes 100 out of $1m in permit scams

A BUSINESSMAN admitted to conning more than 100 victims, mostly foreign workers from countries including China, out of a total of almost $1 million.

Lai Chun Hoe, 45, mostly offered to help the victims, their friends or their relatives to apply for work permits, and they paid him for bogus employment-related services.

He also forged documents and passed them off as in-principle approvals issued by the Manpower Ministry's Work Pass Division.

Lai pleaded guilty earlier this week on Monday to 25 of the 214 offences committed between 2005 and last year. These offences comprised cheating, and forgery to cheat, and his victims also included firms.

Lai's scam also extended to permits for countries such as Australia and Canada. He also offered a service to help foreigners apply for Singapore permanent residency.

On one occasion, he cheated a firm's marketing manager and took $107,500 to help apply for work permits for 19 Chinese nationals.

He posed as a lawyer on another occasion and conned a cashier of $2,300 by telling her he would represent her in her divorce proceedings.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Cheryl Lim told the court that Lai has not made any restitution to his victims.

She added that Lai had remained at large for a long period, even after multiple police reports had been lodged against him.

During that time, he continued to cheat more victims.

District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt called for a pre-sentencing report on Lai's suitability for corrective training - a tough regime for repeat offenders without earlier release for good behaviour.

Lai, who is expected to be sentenced on Feb 11, also pleaded guilty yesterday to two offences related to carrying out the business of an employment agency without a licence in 2012, and employing a Chinese national in 2009 without a valid work pass.

For each count of cheating his victims into handing over their money, Lai could be jailed for up to 10 years, and fined.

The maximum penalty for forgery to cheat is seven years' jail and a fine.

This article was first published on Jan 16, 2015.
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