Man jailed 6 months for cheating fellow Taiwanese

Man jailed 6 months for cheating fellow Taiwanese

A man who came to Singapore to gamble at the casinos swindled his fellow Taiwanese out of more than $2,000 - but ended up a loser when he was caught by one of his four victims.

He was jailed for six months yesterday for his cheating ways.

Chou Wen-liang, 47, would loiter around Changi Airport and tell other Taiwanese visitors that he had been robbed and needed money to return home. He approached his first victim, Mr Hsu Kai Ping, at Terminal 1 on April 29.

Speaking in Mandarin, Chou lied that his luggage, travel documents and sling bag containing all his money had been stolen by three African-Americans and that he needed $850 to obtain new travel documents and air tickets to return to Taiwan.

Recognising Chou's Taiwanese accent, Mr Hsu withdrew money from a nearby ATM and handed it over, believing that Chou's wife in Taiwan would transfer the borrowed sum to his account. Chou also gave the victim what he claimed was his phone number in Taiwan.

But Mr Hsu did not receive the money and was subsequently unable to contact Chou when he returned to Taiwan.

Using the same modus operandi, Chou went on to cheat three other Taiwanese of $2,450 in total. One of the three was 34-year-old actor Chris Lee, who has starred in several Taiwanese TV series such as Second Life.

The court heard that Chou gambled away the money gained from cheating.

On May 5, Mr Hsu returned to Singapore intending to lodge a report. He spotted Chou standing in the arrival hall of Terminal 1 at Changi Airport, approaching two travellers who ignored him.

Mr Hsu then alerted a customer service officer at the information counter, who in turn called the airport police.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Victoria Ting, who pushed for a three-month sentence for each of the two proceeded charges against Chou, said his actions were premeditated and even included fake phone calls to his wife.

She added that Chou targeted Taiwanese travellers at the airport and that his actions, which have been reported in Taiwan's media, had "tarnished Singapore's reputation as a safe holiday destination".

Chou admitted all four charges and said in mitigation that this was his first offence in Singapore.

For cheating, Chou could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

This article was first published on June 13, 2015.
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