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The Straits Times
April 7, 2023
For over two years, Huang Ruixiang, the owner of a renovation business, pocketed money paid to him by customers meant for renovation works.
In other cases, after doing partial work, he would misappropriate money meant for labour or materials.
The 40-year-old, who would also dupe victims by claiming that he had an investment opportunity in his company, scammed 40 people of over $160,000.
He was jailed for 32 months on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to four cheating and four criminal breach of trust charges.
Another 32 charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Kee En said Huang, who went by the name Desmond Huang, owned SG Venture Furnishing that was registered in May 2020.
One of the victims engaged him in August 2020 to renovate her flat. Huang used an initial $4,000 she transferred to him to pay subcontractors and buy materials, but misappropriated a subsequent $6,000 meant for materials and labour.
When the victim asked whether the work will be completed, Huang provided excuses and later broke off the contact.
The victim then called the subcontractors and discovered that Huang had not paid them.
Another victim contacted Huang in November 2020, after she saw his advertisements on Facebook. From Nov 7 to Dec 5, 2020, she transferred $26,125 to him for materials and labour meant for renovation.
Huang spent only $5,000 on the subcontractors and materials and misappropriated the rest. When the victim tried to contact him on Jan 31, 2021, Huang became uncontactable.
DPP Chong said in most of the offences, Huang would use the money he had taken from customers to spend on illegal online gambling platforms or to repay illegal moneylenders.
After victims filed police reports, he was investigated over several occasions.
DPP Chong said Huang changed his name to Darian as it had become known online that he had scammed various customers and subcontractors in connection with renovation contracts.
He also misused the company name of his subcontractor even though he did not belong to that company.
DPP Chong said Huang’s victims lost $160,470.52 and that he has made restitution of $2,900.
He asked the court to jail Huang between 32 and 38 months, citing the need to deter him and others from committing such offences.
Said the DPP: “The accused’s offences – prolific as they may be – are part of a broader and unabated trend of increasing commercial crimes. In total, $660m was cheated from victims in 2022.”
For each cheating charge, Huang could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.
He could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined for each count of criminal breach of trust.