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By Elena Chong
The Straits Times
Feb 15, 2017
A 44-year-old woman who deceived several of her victims into investing in Hermes Birkin bags, among other things, has been sentenced to five years and 10 months in jail.
Karen Tan Shin Ju, who faced 50 cheating charges, admitted on Monday (Feb 13) to 12 counts invoving six victims who were duped of a total of $468,000 between 2013 and 2015.
In all, she cheated eight people of $979,930 by making them believe that they could invest in branded handbags and crude palm oil with promises of profits and high returns.
She has made partial restitution of $204,920.
Thirty-eight other similar charges were taken into consideration.
A district court heard that one of her victims, Ms Belinda Tan Saw Yin, 48, was conned of about $280,000. Karen Tan had made partial restitution of $95,000 to her.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Eric Hu said Ms Tan came to know the accused through a friend sometime in September 2013. Karen Tan told her she was the owner of Golden Prestige and running a luxury handbags business.
She deceived Ms Tan into believing she was able to offer her an investment in Birkin handbags with higher promised returns.
Ms Tan gave her a total of $105,000 for the purported investment.
Karen Tan also claimed Golden Prestige invested in crude palm oil through a person in Malaysia , and persuaded Ms Tan to invest $75,000 in the business. Ms Tan was promised a monthly payout of $5,000 every quarter until September 2014.
When Karen Tan failed to deliver the returns as promised, she claimed the Malaysian had gone missing.
In early March 2014, Karen Tan told Ms Tan that she had invested some money in AIPOST, a multi-level marketing trading platform.
She claimed that AIPOST's new management team was paying dividends to members who wished to withdraw from the scheme.
She said she had $150,000 with AIPOST and needed a processing fee of $30,000 to withdraw the amount.
Ms Tan handed her $30,000 on March 11, 2014 to withdraw the $150,000 which was supposed to be the outstanding amount Karen Tan owed her. Another victim, Mr Tan Teo Hen, 55, transferred $56,0000 to Karen Tan's bank account in February 2014 to invest in two Hermes Birkin bags.
She promised him a return plus capital sum totalling $66,000 by early May that year.
Two months later, Mr Tan also handed over $40,000 to Karen Tan for the crude palm oil investment.
She has made partial restitution of $12,000 to Mr Tan.
Karen Tan, whose sentence was backdated to April 22, 2016, could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined on each charge.