Singapore, Mar 4 (PTI) An Indian-origin woman was sentenced to 20 months and two weeks’ jail on Friday for cheating an elderly insurance agent of 113,400 Singapore Dollars, the Channel News Asia reported.
Devaki Gopal Muthu’s 38-year-old son, Rajeshvran Veerappan, who conspired in the cheating case in 2016 by pretending to be the Chief Justice or a senior judge, had previously been sentenced to 20 months in jail.
The court heard that 62-year-old Muthu got to know the 71-year-old man, an insurance agent, through her then-boyfriend. Her boyfriend was the man’s customer and had bought an insurance plan from him.
From November 2016 to May 2017, mother and son sent text messages to the man and called him to say they needed money to pay for expenses relating to legal proceedings they were involved in.
They promised to pay the money back to him once the legal proceedings were over, although they intended no such thing.
On numerous occasions, Muthu’s son also called the agent pretending to be prominent members of the judiciary, such as Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and then-Principal District Judge Bala Reddy, according to the channel report.
He did so in order to induce the man to transfer money to him or his mother.
Muthu would also call the man, pretending to be a court secretary named Sara Goh, asking for money transfers.
If the man was reluctant, the duo would tell him that he would get into trouble with the courts.
On 38 occasions over several months, the man transferred a total of SGD113,400 into bank accounts belonging to Devaki or her son.
The man, who has not been repaid, borrowed from friends and banks to make the transfers and struggled to make repayments.
As a result, he became devastated and expressed suicidal thoughts, especially when it began affecting his relationships with his family members, the prosecutor said.
His brother now refuses to speak to him and he can no longer visit his ageing mother who lives with his brother.
Court documents did not indicate how the offences came to light.
The prosecutor on Friday asked for between 20 and 22 months’ jail for Muthu, saying she had inordinately delayed court proceedings and wasted the court’s time.
A plead guilty hearing was set many times and the case even went to trial at one point, but Muthu claimed to have COVID-19 on the day of the trial.
“I don’t think that is true,” said the prosecutor. “Of course, she recently did catch COVID.” She stressed that Muthu has caused an inordinate delay by “vacillating” between which position to take regarding her plea.
“Even her son has pleaded guilty, and his sentence served, and I think he’s been charged with new offences,” said the prosecutor.
Defence lawyer Riyach Hussain said 20 months’ jail was “sufficient”. He said his client “fully appreciates what she has done”, and this is her first brush with the law.
She is “anxious and distressed” over the fact that she is facing a prison term, said the lawyer.
He added that this “entire offence started as a result of her son’s manipulation over her to assist him in procuring the money through deception”.
He said the son was the mastermind while Muthu “merely followed instructions”.
In response, the prosecutor said the claim that Muthu’s son was the mastermind was not borne out by the statement of facts.
Even if this was so, Muthu went along with it and contributed to it.
“Obviously she couldn’t pretend to be Chief Justice Menon and District Judge Bala Reddy because she’s a lady, but she pretended to be a court officer. Her culpability is not less than the co-accused,” the channel had the prosecutor as saying.
The judge agreed that there was some degree of inordinate delay on Muthu’s part. He allowed her a deferment to settle some housing matters. PTI GS AMS
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Source: The Print