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Singapore

Man sentenced to jail for cheating loan shark, taking money for harassment that he did not complete

SINGAPORE: A man who cheated a loan shark of money by pretending to harass debtors but not completing the acts was sentenced to jail for 11 days and fined S$1,000 on Wednesday (Jan 6).

Muhammad Khairul Ismail, 34, pleaded guilty to one charge of cheating and another of gambling through a mobile application, with another two charges of cheating the unlicensed moneylender taken into consideration.

Khairul has filed an appeal and is out on bail.

The court heard on Monday morning that Khairul came across a job offer by the loan shark known only as Lucas in November 2019. The offer required Khairul to lock the gates of Lucas' debtors in exchange for cash. ​​​​​​​Lucas' identity has not been established.

Despite knowing that Lucas was a loan shark, Khairul contacted him with the intention of earning fast cash. They agreed that Khairul would lock the gates of Lucas' debtors, paste notes on their doors and send videos of these acts to Lucas as proof.

In exchange, Lucas promised to pay sums of money ranging from S$100 to S$120 for each completed job.

Around Dec 10, 2019, Lucas sent instructions to Khairul via WhatsApp to lock up a debtor's unit with a chain and paste a note on the door.

Khairul went to the address as instructed, but had already planned to cheat Lucas by deceiving him into believing that the harassment was carried out when it was not.

Khairul locked the gate with two bicycle locks and put a debtor's note on one of the locks to avoid damaging the gate. He took a video of it and sent it to Lucas, deceiving him into believing that the harassment had been carried out.

Lucas transferred S$120 to him, but Khairul removed the locks and note from the gate before leaving. Khairul repeated this deception on two other occasions against Lucas.

The offences came to light when Lucas sent the videos of the "harassment" to the debtors, and the authorities were alerted.

Khairul also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of placing bets of about S$1,120 on a mobile gambling application.

The prosecutor asked for at least two weeks' jail for the cheating and a fine of at least S$1,000 for the gambling charge.

NOT THE TYPICAL INNOCENT VICTIM

Deputy Public Prosecutor Krystle Chiang acknowledged that the victim of the cheating was an unlicensed moneylender and "not a typical innocent member of the public".

However, "this does not absolve the accused of wrongdoing and should not distract from the fact that the accused had sustained wrongful gain by his deception", she said.

It would be a slippery slope to say that offences committed against such people should not be punished, added the prosecutor. 

She said Khairul had gained S$340 over the three cheating occasions, and he was the one who initiated contact with Lucas.

While Khairul eventually unlocked the gates of the debtors, "we must not forget that he was there and violated the property" when he had no business being there, she said.

Because Khairul did not complete the harassment, loan shark harassment charges were not brought against him, but he had participated in linked activities.

The judge said this case was a bit unique because Lucas was not supposed to even have offered the money to Khairul in the first place for loan shark harassment.

In mitigation, Khairul said he has really learned from his mistake and feels remorseful for his actions, assuring the court that he will not repeat his actions.

For cheating, Khairul could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined. 

Source: CNA/ll(ac)

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