SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): A man ran a series of renovation and rental scams, cheating almost 70 people of about S$78,000 which he then used for personal expenses like a hotel stay and alcohol.

Tan Kai Wen, 24, had been arrested and released on bail three times, but kept scamming victims until he was finally kept in remand.

On June 11, he was jailed for 28 months after he pleaded guilty to four cheating charges. Another eight cheating charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.

The court heard that he has used up all of the money he cheated and has made no restitution.

Tan, a Malaysian, was previously working as a salesman at a renovation company here in late 2021.

He was facing financial difficulties at the time, and came up with a plan to cheat clients by having them make payments to his bank account instead of the company’s, for tabletops and other renovation work.

Tan began cheating clients from November 2021, getting four of them to transfer more than S$11,000 in total to him.

The ruse involved excuses such as the company’s account being closed on Saturdays and that he was able to offer discounts.

Police reports were made against Tan, and he was arrested on July 18, 2022, before being charged in court a week later and released on bail.

But he continued with his cheating spree, tricking 14 victims of another S$16,300 through renovation scams up till January 2023.

During that time, Tan had been arrested again twice on Nov 13, 2022, and Jan 20, 2023, and released on bail each time.

The renovation company had lodged a police report against Tan in August 2022, but he then created a Carousell account to continue running the scams.

Tan failed to turn up in court for a hearing on Jan 25, 2023, and a warrant of arrest was issued against him.

While on the run, he switched up his scam type, cheating a total of 49 victims of about S$51,000 in a series of rental scams on Facebook using multiple identities.

Tan’s crime spree came to an end after he was arrested on March 15, 2023, and kept in remand.

The prosecution said that by then, there were a total of 68 victims, of which 49 were foreigners working in Singapore who were looking for accommodation.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Santhra Aiyyasamy said Tan had a complete disregard for the law, law enforcement authorities and the court, having committed the spate of offences while out on bail and on the run.

Tan’s sentence was backdated to March 15, 2023, from when he has been in remand.

For each count of cheating, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined. – The Straits Times/ANN