SINGAPORE — Saddled with debt, a man who has been in and out of jail over the years for cheating, tricked a few more victims into handing him almost S$40,000 (RM141,568) by offering to book hotel rooms for them at cheaper rates despite actually having none to offer.
The victims included an ex-colleague who made bookings that totalled over S$25,000 through him.
When the police caught up with him and his case went to court last year, instead of pleading guilty, the man, Calvin Lim Boon Lay, forged medical certificates to skip hearings for about three months.
Today, the 47-year-old Singaporean was sentenced to five years’ corrective training, after he pleaded guilty to four counts of cheating and one of forgery. Ten other charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
Corrective training is typically ordered for mature repeat offenders and involves serving jail time for up to 14 years.
S$288 for two-night MBS stay
According to court documents, victims learnt that Lim had good staycation deals at Marina Bay Sands to offer, with a three day, two night stay at the hotel going for as little as S$288.
According to the MBS website today, a stay at the hotel costs upwards of S$700 a night.
One victim Ms Low Ling Chee got to know about Lim through a friend, who is also his ex-colleague.
On October 15, 2021, Ms Low contacted Lim, who told her to confirm bookings early as prices would purportedly change later that month.
Ms Low then transferred him S$4,290 via PayNow to book a few rooms.
“At the material time, the accused did not have this deal and he intended to use the monies to pay the debts which he owed to moneylenders,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Lim Yu Hui.
To maintain the pretence, Lim forwarded Ms Low booking reference codes that he had received from the hotel from his own stay there previously.
Ms Low began to suspect something was amiss when Lim kept giving excuses to shift the booking dates, such as the need to disinfect the rooms due to the Covid-19 situation back then or that bookings were suspended due to the return of tourists.
Lim later paid S$576 to Ms Lim and paid for a one-night stay there for her after she sought a refund. The woman then filed a police report on Dec 28.
Another victim, Ms Nur Madiah Hidayah Lim Othman, Lim’s ex-colleague, made multiple bookings through Lim from August to October that year, transferring a total of S$25,236 to him.
Lim booked two hotel rooms on his own for Ms Lim, but other bookings did not materialise.
Lim later told her that the remaining bookings were not successful and that the hotel would process the refund.
When she found out from the hotel that no such bookings exist, Ms Lim confronted the accused who admitted that he did not make the bookings.
Lim then returned S$2,040 to her, which consisted of money transferred from other victims and his own salary.
Ms Lim lodged a police report on December 30, 2021.
According to DPP Lim, the total loss incurred by victims for all charges was S$39,924. The offender has made restitution of S$4,174.
Lim was scheduled to plead guilty to his cheating charges in court on June 12, 2023.
However, he forged medical certificates purportedly issued by Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) and submitted them through his lawyer and had his hearings adjourned 10 times between June and September.
The 10 forgery instances were amalgamated into one count of forgery.
Investigations revealed that Lim had obtained a sample medical certificate online and edited it using Microsoft Word text editing software, before submitting the fraudulent document to his lawyer.
“The accused’s acts only came to light after the police checked with KTPH who informed that they had no records of the accused seeking treatment at the hospital,” said DPP Lim.
“The accused committed the above offence on court bail.”
Court document did not state what led the police to finally conduct a check with the hospital.
DPP Lim on Thursday sought the sentence handed down by the court, noting that the offender had been convicted before for similar offences.
She cited the corrective training suitability report on Lim, which stated that his current offences “were the latest in a line of similar offences dating back to 25 years prior”.
For example, in November 2017, Lim was sentenced to 38 months’ jail for various offences including multiple counts of cheating.
The amount cheated this time round was close to five times the total losses arising from the 2017 offences, said the prosecutor.
For each count of cheating, Lim could have been sentenced to 10 years in jail and a fine.
Each count of forgery also carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine. — TODAY