GOO Pau Hin did not have to look far when trying to come up with a way to feed his gambling habit back in 2010.
He set his sights on the elderly female cleaners whom he supervised, as a worker of Ramky Cleaning Company, at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch in HarbourFront Place.
Goo, 52, cheated four cleaners, aged 51 to 78, of $20,000 to $330,950 each by purportedly investing their money with the Bank of America. One victim, cleaner Ah Moi alias Chong Hoke Moi, 66, lost $330,950 - nearly all her life savings and Central Provident Fund retirement money.
Yesterday, Goo, who has cheating- related convictions in 1992, 1994 and 2004, was sentenced to six years' corrective training, a regime for repeat offenders with no remission for good behaviour unlike a jail term.
He pleaded guilty last month to 20 counts of cheating with 74 other charges taken into consideration. The total amount involved was $542,930, of which $97,160 were paid to the victims as "dividends" over three years.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Eunice Lim said Goo had asked the women if they were keen to invest their savings with the bank, claiming it gave attractive interest rates to its staff, including cleaners.
He told two of the victims that the bank took pity on cleaners, who worked very hard but earned very little. The bank wanted to help them by allowing them to invest, he added.
Goo, who claimed that he had received high dividend payouts, promised to help the victims process the deposits. He asked for a photocopy of their identification cards and bank account details.
He went on to pocket amounts ranging from $980 to $20,000 from the victims regularly before before he was found out last year by the Bank of America and reported to the police.
Ms Lim said Goo kept up his deception by providing bank statement slip he got from the printer office. He typed terms like "Bank of America", "Swiss Bank" and "Temasek @ BOA" as well as fictitious account numbers, trade and due dates before giving them to victims as proof of their deposits.
He paid them "dividends" and "interest" periodically, but these were in fact deposits from one victim passed on to another.
Madam Chong received just $2,900 out of the $330,950 she invested. In her statement, she said she found it hard to sleep, had no appetite and felt that life was very meaningless after she found out that she was cheated.
Highlighting aggravating factors, Ms Lim said there was considerable planning and pre-meditation as the scam took place over a long time.
Goo also abused his position of trust and authority. "The accused systematically targeted vulnerable elderly and female victims, who trusted in financial institutions such as the bank and cheated them of their life savings and security for old age."
Goo could have received up to 14 years of corrective training.
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