An Indian-origin conman was sentenced to six years and 10 months in jail in Singapore on Wednesday for running a fake investment scheme and cheating people, including his Indian-origin neighbour, of over Singapore dollars 1 million. Sathish Nair Dhanabalan, 36, would convince his India-origin neighbour Elanngovan Pillai Munisamy, 56, to continue investing each time the "high returns from the investment" were due, The Straits Times reported.
As part of the ruse, which took place from 2014 to 2016, Dhanabalan cheated Elanngovan of more than Singapore dollars 200,000. The Indian-origin neighbour even received text messages and calls from a person who claimed to be "Ho Ching", the CEO of the state-owned Temasek Holdings and wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, it said. Dhanabalan had used various investment scams to cheat a total of nine victims of more than Singapore dollars 1 million. He was jailed to six years and 10 months on Wednesday, the report said.
In 2017, Dhanabalan used a similar tactic of a purported investment with another company Barclays Bank to cheat three other victims – Fadhilah Ibrahim; her husband, Aniz Sirajudin Shaik Abdullah; and her mother, Madam Barakathunisa of more than Singapore dollars 400,000 (USD 3 lakh). He later gave excuses when they wanted their money back.
Dhanabalan also forged documents of government organisations to show to his victims why they could not get their money back. In August 2017, he stole four of his father's cheques and forged the elderly man's signature on them. He then issued two of them to Aniz, and one each to Fadhilah and Barakathunisa. Each cheque was for Singapore dollars 150,000 (1.1 lakh).
The cheques, however, bounced as there were insufficient funds in the bank account they were linked to. The court heard that Dhanabalan used similar methods to cheat his other victims, the report said. He pleaded guilty on Wednesday to 20 charges, including eight counts of cheating involving more than Singapore dollars 700,000 (USD 5.2 lakh) in total, it said, adding that another 41 charges linked to the remaining amount were taken into consideration during sentencing.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Lu Yiwei urged the court to sentence Dhanabalan to six years and 10 months in jail, stressing that he had taken "painstaking steps" to avoid the detection of his crime. "He perpetuated his ruse so well that the victims were fooled into continuously handing him monies for investments. The accused used the identities of real people as the purported senders of the letters to shore up the credibility of the letters," she said.
The court heard that Dhanabalan had given back to his victims about 40 per cent of the amount he had taken.