Fitness trainer scams man of $463,000 -- telling him he needs money for kidnapped daughter's ransom

Elena Chong
The Straits Times
23 January 2017

A fitness trainer conned his victim into believing that he needed money to pay for his mother' s medical bills, rental arrears for two flats, insurance and even ransom for his kidnapped daughter.

Between August 2012 and March 2013, Kelvin Kwan Ban Hock duped civil servant Goh Wee Hou, 37, of a total of $462,700 which Kwan used to settle his gambling debts and personal expenses. No restitution has been made.

On Monday (Jan 23), the 30-year-old father of one was sentenced to five years and two months in jail after admitting to 17 charges, including two drug-related offences.

Forty-two other cheating charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Assistant Public Prosecutor Thiagesh Sukumaran said that Kwan became close to Mr Goh after becoming his fitness trainer.

After some time, Kwan started pouring out his personal problems to Mr Goh.

He also asked for money, claiming, among other things, that his mother was suffering from leukaemia and that he had to pay monthly insurance premiums to Prudential.

Between Oct 8 and 9, 2012, Kwan claimed his brother had gambled away $10,000 meant for his own school fees while trying to win money for his mother's medical expense. Mr Goh gave him $10,000 in cash.

Mr Goh then gave him another $55,000 between Oct 10 and 11, 2012 for his mother's operation at Singapore General Hospital, and $19,000 the following month for her operation in France.

Kwan also deceived the victim into delivering $16,000 to him to repay a loan taken from his girlfriend "June" who had threatened to inform his wife of his extramarital affair if prompt repayment was not made.

APP Sukumaran said Kwan had actually borrowed money from "June", not for his mother's medical expenses, but for a personal reason.

Kwan cheated Mr Goh of another $74,000 that same month by lying that he had incurred credit card debt of more than $74,000 to pay for his mother's medical bills and his father's gambling debts.

In fact, Kwan's debt was due to his overspending and gambling.

But he wasn't done yet.

The court heard that in December that year, Kwan tricked Mr Goh into believing that he (accused) was diagnosed with failing bone marrow and needed a loan to pay for his medical expenses. Mr Goh delivered cash of $17,200 to him.

Mr Goh gave $80,000 in total to Kwan to cover for his brother's alleged embezzlement case in February 2013. Kwan had made up the story.

Between March 25 and 27, 2013, Kwan messaged Mr Goh that his daughter had been kidnapped in Hanoi, Vietnam. He managed to get a loan of $32,000 from the victim to pay for the US$200,000 ransom.

Mr Goh finally lodged a police report on March 28, 2013. All of Kwan's stories were untrue.

He was arrested at Changi Airport on June 10 last year. He was found to have taken methamphetamine or Ice, and had a cannabis mixture in his possession.

District Judge Wong Li Tein said his offences were all "opportunistic".

She said Kwan had got himself into this mess and should not expect any leniency from the court as he had taken advantage of the victim's kindness and generosity.

Furthermore, he had used the money not for real needs but his gambling debts and overspending, she said.

He could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined on each charge of cheating.