SINGAPORE – A former agent who siphoned over $128,000 from an elderly client under the guise of buying shares for her was jailed for 15 months and four weeks on Tuesday (May 18).
For six years, he took money from her using the blank cheques she gave him.
Tan Chee Lok, 66, pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal breach of trust as an agent and one of criminal breach of trust. Another four similar charges were considered in sentencing.
The court heard that Tan was a remisier with Lim & Tan Securities at the time of the offences, between 2010 and 2015. He was responsible for servicing trading accounts maintained by clients and helping them execute their share orders. He would get a commission from every transaction.
The victim, now 87, is a housewife with no educational qualifications. She had a trading account serviced by Tan. When she wished to buy shares, she would call him.
Between Jan 19, 2010 and Nov 26, 2015, the victim entrusted Tan with blank cheques she had pre-signed.
Tan had told her he would help her by filling out the cheques himself and using them to buy shares.
Instead of placing her orders, he encashed the cheques and deposited the money into his bank accounts. He then used the money for his own expenses.
To avoid getting caught, Tan would deposit some money into the victim’s bank account whenever she indicated that she wished to sell the shares she had “bought”. Tan used the victim’s cheques to withdraw money from her bank account 54 times between 2010 and 2015.
He resigned from his firm on June 1, 2016 as he kept losing money but he lied to the victim that he was still with his company part-time.
On Oct 31, 2016, Tan collected another cheque from the victim and withdrew $1,002.80 from her account.
In total, Tan took $128,305.82 from the victim between Jan 19, 2010 and Oct 31, 2016.
As part of his scheme, Tan deposited $87,847.13 into the victim’s bank account from Feb 4, 2010 to Nov 30, 2016.
On May 2, 2019, the victim’s son lodged a police report after he uncovered the scam while setting up his mother’s will.
He checked with the firm and learnt that her last trade was on April 14, 2010. He was shocked as he knew that his mother had been issuing cheques to purchase shares up until 2016.
Tan has since made full restitution of the leftover sum of $40,458.69 to the victim.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Hidayat Amir described Tan’s offences as “deliberate and sustained”, adding that the victim was vulnerable due to her advanced age and low level of education.
Tan’s lawyer Han Hean Juan said in mitigation that while there was deception involved, it was not a complex, elaborate scheme. He added that more evidence beyond the victim’s age and education level, such as mental deterioration, was needed to prove the victim’s vulnerability.
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