SINGAPORE: A mother of six children who went house to house with her young son in order to cheat people of money for fabricated "medical bills" was jailed for six months on Thursday (Jun 6).
The 38-year-old woman, whose name cannot be revealed due to a gag order by the court, tricked five people who lived in Singapore's north-east of between S$100 and S$150 in May and June last year.
She gained their sympathy by lying to them that she needed money for medical bills, claiming that her son or mother-in-law was in hospital.
To avoid being recognised, the woman was careful not to approach her own neighbours, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Chew Xin Ying.
In one of the incidents on Jun 16 last year, the woman went to various households at a HDB block with her young son, asking for money.
She told a man who lived there that another son of hers was in KK Women's and Children's Hospital, and that she needed S$120 for transport and to pay his medical bill.
The man only had a S$10 note and S$50 notes. Noticing this, the woman asked him for S$150, lying to him that she lived in the unit above his and would repay him. The man handed the cash to her.
The woman pleaded guilty to four charges that include cheating, theft and criminal breach of trust as a servant. Another three charges were taken into consideration.
She also committed a crime along with her family. On Nov 25 last year, the woman took a Grab Hitch ride along with her husband and son.
The trio (the son is a co-accused alongside his parents) stole the driver's Lenovo laptop and accessories worth S$4,000 in total.
A few months later, while working as a cashier at a supermarket in north-east Singapore, the woman pocketed S$480 over five occasions from the cash register.
The woman's defence lawyer on Thursday told the court that she had four school-aged children and had carried out the acts "out of desperation".
She had since tried her best to repay the total S$1,054 she took from the various victims, but was able only to return S$574, said the lawyer. On top of this, the laptop was recovered and "there was no harm to the victim".
"The defendant only did it because of her financial situation, because she was trying to help out her family," said the defence, adding that she was very remorseful.
In response, the prosecution said the recovery of the laptop was "entirely fortuitous" and due to the efforts of the police.
District Judge Luke Tan said the woman was "preying on the kindness of strangers" and involving her son in the process.