Two Chinese nationals who wanted to extend their stay in Singapore thought they could fool the authorities by pretending to be robbery victims.
Peng Mingying, 32, and Zhang Xuemei, 33, both Special Pass holders, were each sentenced to three months in jail yesterday after pleading guilty to one count of giving false information to a police officer.
Special Pass holders are not allowed to work in Singapore.
Peng had told police that she offered massage services here while Zhang's occupation was not disclosed in court documents.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Hui Jia Lun told the court that a woman known as Cui Ruyi had approached the two women and sold them the idea that staging a fake robbery would help them extend their stay.
Peng and Zhang agreed to fork out $3,500 each.
They later paid Cui $3,000 in total, with the balance to be paid after the "job" was done.
DPP Hui told District Judge Mathew Joseph: "The accused persons were told before the alleged robbery that a man would pretend to be a customer, look for them in their rented unit, rob them and tie them up.
"The accused persons were instructed to make a mess in their rooms with their clothes, so as to make it seem like their house was being robbed. They were also taught how to call for the police."
A Singaporean man, Lai Wei Tuck, 36, was roped in and offered $5,000 for his part in the fake robbery.
At about 5pm on Jan 17 last year, Lai went to the women's rented flat in Dorset Road where he used cable ties to restrain them.
Zhang called the police at around 6.30pm, claiming that she and Peng had been robbed.
Lai was arrested on Jan 21 last year and the two women came clean about three months later.
DPP Hui said Lai and Cui had already been dealt with in court.
Before sentencing the pair yesterday, Judge Joseph said he found it "particularly disturbing" that Peng and Zhang had taken part in the ruse for the sole purpose of extending their stay here.
He added that their sentences must have a "deterrent element" to discourage others from committing similar offences.
Offenders convicted of giving false information to police officers can be jailed for up to a year and fined up to $5,000.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.