Teacher asked student for money for needy boy - who did not exist

Taking advantage of his student's generosity and trust, he cheated the then Secondary Four boy of $4,000.

Low Yiming, 31, who used to teach in a school in the eastern part of Singapore, told his student, Mr Lai Jinhua, then 19, that he was helping a needy boy in getting financial help.

It turned out that the needy boy did not exist and the money went into the former teacher's own pocket instead.

Low was yesterday jailed for four months and fined $1,500 after pleading guilty to one count of cheating and an unrelated theft charge. Two other cheating charges involving the same student were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Low, who was Mr Lai's relief teacher at school on a few occasions, sent a text message to him on Oct 14, 2011, claiming that he was helping a Secondary Three student in the school.

He then asked for a $2,000 loan.

When Mr Lai asked who this needy student was, Low replied that the boy wished to remain anonymous.

Because he trusted the teacher, Mr Lai transferred the money into Low's bank account later that day.

Low approached Mr Lai again two days later with the same tall tale about the same "needy student", and the latter transferred over another $2,000.


However, Mr Lai later realised that he had been duped and made a police report on Nov 1, 2011.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Chew Xin Ying said that Low also went to Mustafa Centre with a woman known as Ms Mae Chong Yin, 27, on Aug 4, last year and shoplifted.

Together, they stole items including a shirt and a bottle of perfume worth $124.30.

DPP Chew said that Ms Mae had been issued with a 12-month conditional warning in lieu of prosecution.

Low's lawyer, Mr Louis Joseph from Regent Law, told District Judge Ng Peng Hong that his client's father was dying from cancer when he committed the cheating offences.

The lawyer added that Low could not see any other means to pay for the medical bills.

Stressing that a full restitution had been made to Mr Lai, Mr Joseph said that his client had acted out of desperation.

Pleading for a lenient sentence, he said: "He decided to portray to (Mr Lai) that it was another student who needed the money as he felt embarrassed to share his family situation."

Before handing down his sentence, Judge Ng said that the offences were very serious in nature.

He also said that Low had abused the trust the parents and the school had in him.

Low resigned from teaching shortly after Mr Lai made the police report, a Ministry of Education spokesman told The New Paper. For cheating, the former teacher could have been jailed up to 10 years and fined.

And for stealing, he could have been jailed up to seven years and fined

This article was first published on July 30, 2014.
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