Travel agent cheated customers of $6.6m

SINGAPORE - She ran a travel agency, but Brenda Ng Lay Yen sold more than just package holidays.

The 33-year-old pocketed around $6.6 million after persuading her customers to join dodgy "investment schemes" involving diamonds, oil and even theme park tickets.

On Tuesday, she pleaded guilty to cheating, theft, criminal breach of trust and forging cheques.

A district court heard the travel firm director started her crime spree in September 2009.

She convinced her victims - some of whom were her friends - to part with their money by promising them very high returns.

To entice them to pump in more cash, she paid them what she claimed were profits.

Ng would also issue personal cheques to reassure them that their money was in safe hands.

But when her victims tried to cash them at the banks, they were told the accounts had all been closed.

When the "profits" dried up, they went to the police.

Ng lay low when investigations started in May 2010.

However, she went back to her crooked ways a year later, stealing her younger sister's cheque book and using it to withdraw $58,820.

She continued until she was arrested in January last year, and has been in custody ever since.

Ng is no longer working in the travel business.

She has managed to repay only $2.3million of the money she pocketed.

The former director could be jailed for up to 10 years and fined on each count of cheating and forgery when she is sentenced on Aug 23.

The maximum punishment for theft is seven years behind bars and a fine


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