M’sian Overstays In S’pore For Over 6 Years & Runs Rental Scams, Jailed 14 Months

Malaysian Man Jailed 14 Months For Overstaying & Running Rental Scams

Sometimes, challenging situations in life may compel people to resort to underhanded methods to survive. However, in the eyes of the law, a crime is a crime.

On Monday (6 Jun), Er Chern Siew, 40, pleaded guilty to one immigration charge for overstaying in Singapore for over 6 years after his employer failed to secure his workers’ permit.

Additionally, he pleaded guilty to six charges of cheating offences after swindling S$10,450 from 14 people in rental scams.

He was sentenced to 14 months’ jail and three strokes of the cane.

Overstayed in Singapore for over 6 years after his visit pass expired

According to TODAY, Er entered Singapore by bus through the Woodlands Checkpoint on 13 May 2015. He was in the country on a 14-day visit pass but stayed on even after it expired.

Source: Google Maps

To avoid getting caught, he lived in different places around Singapore and even signed a lease of a unit under the name of his friend, Lim Sau Sen.

He used Lim’s personal information to log into TraceTogether during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On top of that, he also registered for a mobile number under his girlfriend’s name, Kok Po Yen.

Caught when a victim of his rental scams lodged police report

Free Malaysia Today reported that Er got a job as a salesman and an unlicensed estate agent to support himself.

Between 1 Jul 2021 and 26 Sep 2021, 14 people fell for his rental scams, where he cheated victims into paying rental deposits for an apartment unit along Lorong 35 Geylang.

rental scams

Source: Google Maps

Er would use social media platforms to send messages to Malaysians staying in Singapore and persuade them to rent properties under his management.

He convinced one of the victims to make a rental deposit of S$850 to his girlfriend’s bank account. After that, Er delayed the move-in date and eventually became uncontactable.

Among the victims, five were Malaysian women aged between 27 and 30. In total, he cheated S$10,450 from all 14 victims.

Police arrested him on 14 Oct 2021 after one of the victims lodged a police report in July last year.

According to TODAY, the court also noted a separate incident on 30 Oct 2020, where Er picked up a debit card left behind at an ATM at Harbourfront Centre. He used the card on four occasions and bought S$336.58 worth of items.

The money has yet to be recovered.

Sentenced to 14 months’ jail & three strokes of the cane

Er initially came to Singapore to find work, but his eventual employer could not secure him a work permit.

His lawyer Periowsamy Otharam explained that he was afraid to surrender after realising he had overstayed.

Later, he could secure a job as a mover but found himself unemployed again when the Covid-19 pandemic happened.

Hence, he decided to resort to scams to sustain himself.

His lawyer agreed that his actions were wrong but argued that the amount he cheated was “small”.

In seeking a lower sentence of 10 months’ jail and three strokes of the cane, Mr Otharam was quoted as saying,

The purpose of why he committed these offences was due… to the Covid period. Otherwise, he was earning an honest living as a mover and sending money back to his parents, although he was illegally here — he is not denying that.

Stay vigilant against scams

It is unfortunate that the pandemic had placed someone in a situation where he felt he needed to scam others for sustenance.

However, what he did was against the law. After all, it’s not right to achieve something at the expense of others.

This case also highlights the need for prospective tenants to be vigilant against rental scams — only consult trustworthy and certified agents recommended by others.

When in doubt, it’s good to call the relevant stakeholders for confirmation.

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Featured image adapted from Google Maps.

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