SINGAPORE: In a shocking case of deceit and manipulation, a 49-year-old married woman, Joceyln Kwek Sok Koon, managed to con a total of 10 people out of more than S$880,000 (US$646,000).
Kwek’s elaborate scams involved convincing multiple men to fall in love with her, leading them to transfer large sums of money.
Deceptive romance leads to financial scam
Kwek got to know a 24-year-old man named Lai Sze Yin in July 2016, when he delivered a parcel to her home.
Despite her marital status and having two children, Kwek initiated a romantic relationship with Lai.
To keep her true identity hidden from Lai’s family, she adopted a fictional persona, presenting herself as a young woman named Rachel Lam Xin Yi, claiming to be a student at the National University of Singapore.
Through this false identity, she gained the trust of Lai’s parents, convincing them and Lai’s younger sister to hand over a total of S$150,000 on the guise of investment or a car loan.
In October 2018, Lai’s mother reported to the police that her son’s girlfriend had deceived her into giving away her entire savings and had remained uncontactable for over a year.
Scammer cheats own godmother, pawning family heirlooms for personal gain
In an unrelated case in November 2017, Kwek also targeted her own godmother, a 73-year-old woman, persuading her to hand over valuable jewelry for cleaning, which she promptly pawned for S$48,250.
She pawned more than 50 pieces of jewellery, mostly family heirlooms, and used the money to settle her personal debts.
Her godmother repeatedly asked for the items back, but Kwek offered excuses and only returned a fraction of them after being threatened with a police report.
According to CNA, Kwek was declared bankrupt in January 2014.
Online love scammer deceives multiple victims, makes partial restitution
Other than Lai, one of her other victims was a 35-year-old Certis Cisco employee who fell for Kwek through online conversations.
Their acquaintance began when Kwek initiated contact with Certis Cisco through an email inquiry, leading to their subsequent online conversations.
The victim developed deep feelings for Kwek, despite them never having met or engaged in video calls.
She used fake photos and perpetuated a love scam.
The victim, however, conducted a reverse Google image search and discovered that her pictures belonged to a Korean blogger.
Despite confronting Kwek and arguing about this discovery, the victim continued his relationship with her.
Throughout the period between September 2017 and March 2019, Kwek succeeded in convincing this man to transfer a total of approximately S$48,000 to her.
When the victim realized in June 2021 that he had been deceived, he filed a police report.
Police requested Kwek to appear at the police station for a statement, but she repeatedly rescheduled her appointments, including one that coincided with the first day of her trial for the offences related to Lai’s family.
In April 2021, Kwek did make a partial restitution of about S$1,900 to this victim.
Another victim, a 39-year-old salesman, who worked at a piano shop, fell for Kwek after approaching her as a company representative on WhatsApp.
Kwek presented herself as a wealthy individual by sharing images of “her property” with the victim.
This impression was further solidified when she made bulk purchases of expensive abalone from the victim’s friend, leading the victim to believe in her affluence.
However, Kwek’s deceit became apparent when she mistakenly sent the victim a full screenshot of someone else’s profile photo, claiming it as her own.
Despite this revealing mistake, the victim continued his romantic involvement with Kwek, which had been initiated in May 2021.
Kwek persistently requested money from him for various reasons, and driven by his affection for her, the victim sent her substantial sums of money, amounting to about S$103,710.
To fulfil these financial demands, he even resorted to borrowing from his mother, sister, and friends.
After quitting his job, the victim faced financial difficulties, primarily because he trusted Kwek’s promise of a job offer that never materialized.
He remained oblivious to the fact that he was being deceived, as Kwek skillfully cultivated his trust and maintained the illusion by sending him expensive gifts.
Only when another victim of Kwek’s scam contacted him did he realise the truth.
Kwek ceased responding to his messages and calls on 18 April 2022, when her bail was revoked, and she was remanded.
Kwek did make a partial restitution of about S$10,000 to this victim.
Additionally, court documents did not disclose when Kwek was arrested, but she was released on bail in 2020.
Targeted her husband’s ex-colleague
On March 2020, after Kwek had been charged with various offences, she continued her fraudulent activities by deceiving her husband’s ex-colleague, a 66-year-old British man.
The victim used to work with Kwek’s husband at a bank and befriended Kwek.
She claimed she needed the money to claim her inheritance and even forged documents to maintain the illusion.
To reinforce her false narrative, Kwek established a chat group about fictitious legal matters and posed as a male lawyer to further mislead the victim.
In total, she defrauded this man of S$338,600, employing various tactics, including falsely claiming to have leukaemia.
When the victim expressed a desire to apply for permanent residency, Kwek continued to lie, asserting she could act as his sponsor.
This was a ploy to delay repayment.
She warned him not to contact immigration authorities, suggesting he would face immediate deportation.
In January 2021, the victim lost his job and his employment pass was cancelled, making him contemplate returning to the UK.
However, Kwek assured him of his PR application’s approval, urging him not to accept any other job offers and cautioning against contacting immigration or labour authorities.
Despite the victim’s requests for proof, Kwek forged documents from immigration authorities.
No restitution was provided to the victim, who accumulated debt due to Kwek’s actions, leading to deteriorating mental health and facing investigations for overstaying.
Prosecutor seeks lengthy jail term for Joceyln Kwek
Deputy Public Prosecutor Phoebe Tan sought a lengthy jail term of 91 to 100 months for Kwek, emphasizing her serial cheating and manipulation of numerous victims.
Ms Tan asserted that Kwek systematically targeted various people online and showed no intention of stopping her fraudulent activities.
Despite her clean criminal record, Ms Tan argued that Kwek should not be treated as a first-time offender, considering “she’s a serial cheat who had scammed at least 10 known victims of a substantial amount of money”, said Ms Tan.
Kwek not only lied without hesitation but also exploited the trust of Lai’s parents.
She repeatedly evaded court appearances, resorting to changing her location, even going from one medical facility to another.
Many victims were unaware of her deceit until they were informed by others.
Kwek’s case reveals the extent to which she exploited the trust of those around her, making her a skilful and manipulative liar.
The sentencing for Kwek has been adjourned to a later date, and her co-accused, Lai Sze Yin, had previously received a 15-month jail sentence in June 2021 for his role in cheating his own family.
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