SINGAPORE: A jobless man who pretended to be a Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officer and cheated a woman with special needs into giving him two iPhones was sentenced to jail for a year and fined S$2,200 on Thursday (May 16).
Almond Tan Peng, 29, pleaded guilty to various charges of cheating, criminal breach of trust and traffic offences, with other charges - including impersonating a CNB officer - taken into consideration.
The court heard that Tan, who is married, met the victim on dating app OkCupid last year. The 24-year-old woman, who has special needs, met Tan at a carpark in Upper Serangoon Road on Dec 11, 2018.
The woman saw Tan taking a pair of handcuffs from the side compartment of his wife's car and asked him about it. He told her that he was a CNB officer, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Eugene Phua.
After Tan told the woman that he was supposedly a CNB officer, he asked her to help him sign up for mobile subscription plans, assuring her that he would pay the bills and that she would not have to.
Trusting him, because he had told her he was a CNB officer, the woman went with Tan to Jurong Point Shopping Centre four days later to sign up for a mobile subscription plan.
On the way, Tan was arrested by traffic police along Jurong West Central 3 when he was stopped for not wearing a seatbelt. After checks, the police found that he did not have a driving licence.
At a Singtel outlet at Jurong Point Shopping Centre, the woman signed up for a two-year mobile subscription plan that came with a iPhone XS Max valued at S$2,039.
Two days later on Dec 17, 2018, she signed up for another similar plan and got another such phone at Bukit Panjang Plaza. She handed the two phones over to Tan.
She made a police report a few months later in February this year, saying that she had befriended a person named "Shawn Lim", who was really Tan, on OkCupid.
In her report she wrote that she believed that he was a CNB officer as he had a pair of handcuffs in his car.
"I came to know his real name as Almond Tan Peng as I saw his car loan letter once," she wrote.
Other than cheating the woman, Tan also admitted to siphoning S$105 belonging to car company Global Autoworks while he was working there as a supervisor in February 2017, and to collecting S$650 from car wash customers at a Caltex Petrol Station for services the outlet did not provide.
TAN SAYS HE DID NOT KNOW WOMAN HAD SPECIAL NEEDS
Tan, who was unrepresented, asked the judge for half the one-year sentence that the prosecution had asked for.
He said through a Mandarin interpreter that his wife gave birth to a child while he was in remand, and that he was preparing for a Housing Board flat.
"I did not know that (the victim) is a special needs person," he said. "I did not know about this at all. If I had known that she was such a person, and I still continued to do this to her, this is something that (no) human would do."
He added that he did not have the intention to deceive her, but was "just joking and wanted to be a friend".
He told District Judge Mathew Joseph that he would not reoffend, and that if he did, "you can sentence me to whatever length you want".
The judge asked him why he carried handcuffs and pretended to be a CNB officer, and Tan replied that the handcuffs had been a gift from his friend and had been in the car "all along".
When pressed by the judge to explain why he pretended to be a CNB officer, Tan said "this is a good question", but did not answer, instead apologising and asking the judge to give him a chance.
For each cheating charge, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.