Man cheated victims of over $1 million in investment scams, stole father's cheques to repay them

SINGAPORE – A 35-year-old man cheated multiple victims of over $1 million through various investment scams, even forging documents from organisations such as government agencies to show why they could not get their money back.

He later stole four cheques worth $150,000 each from his father and tried to issue them to some of his victims.

Sathish Nair Dhanabalan pleaded guilty on Friday (Oct 9) to 20 charges. Eight involved cheating seven victims of $748,000 in total, while 11 were forgery-related.

The remaining charge was for stealing the cheques from his father.

District Judge John Ng will take into consideration 41 other charges – 14 for cheating and 27 relating to forgery – during sentencing on Nov 16.

Court documents state that Sathish would come up with false investment schemes purporting to have high returns, as part of his ruse.

One of his victims, Mr Elanngovan Pillai Munisamy, passed him $207,100 in total over multiple occasions from 2014 to 2016.

Sathish had told Mr Elanngovan, who was his neighbour, that the money was for a purported investment with Temasek Holdings.

The neighbour even received text messages and calls from a person who claimed to be “Ho Ching”, court documents state.

Each time returns from the “investment” were due, Sathish would convince Mr Elanngovan not to withdraw the sums he had put in but instead to continue investing them.

Among other things, he also produced letters purportedly from various organisations such as the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.

Sathish also cheated three other victims – Ms Fadhilah Ibrahim, her husband, Mr Aniz Sirajudin Shaik Abdullah, and her mother, Madam Barakathunisa E. A. Haliyul Rahiman – of $415,000.

In March 2017, he told Ms Fadhilah that Barclays Bank was offering an investment scheme with high returns. Ms Fadhilah later introduced the scheme to her husband and mother.

Between March and April 2017, the three victims handed money to Sathish on multiple occasions.

Court documents state that Sathish would transfer money back to Mr Aniz or his wife at times to convince Mr Aniz that their investments were growing.

He would also send Mr Aniz letters, including those purportedly from DBS Bank and Barclays Bank relating to the investment scheme, and screenshots of his own bank account showing that he had vast sums of money.

After Mr Aniz stopped receiving “returns” from the scheme in April 2017, he demanded all investment amounts to be returned.

Sathish then started to give various excuses to delay the return of the money, including that the sums had been withheld at various ministries for investigation.

To support his claims, he forged cheques purportedly issued by Standard Chartered Bank and letters allegedly sent by various organisations including government bodies and a law firm.

In August 2017, Sathish stole four cheques belonging to his father and forged his father’s signature on them.

He then issued two of them to Mr Aniz, and one each to Ms Fadhilah and Madam Barakathunisa. Each cheque was worth $150,000.

The cheques eventually bounced as there were insufficient funds in the bank account they were linked to.

On Friday, the court heard that Sathish has returned some of the money he had cheated his victims of.

He and his family have also made plans to fully repay the victims, said defence lawyer Sujesh Anandan.

Sathish is expected to be sentenced on Nov 16.

For each of his cheating offences, he can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

Offenders convicted of forgery can be jailed for up to four years and/or fined.

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