SINGAPORE: A 71-year-old woman and longtime former employee of the exclusive Keppel Club was sentenced to 12 years' jail on Monday (Mar 26) for selling fake memberships to more than 1,000 people for nearly S$37.5 million.
Setho Oi Lin, also known as Setho Irene, pleaded guilty last year to 60 out of 3,181 charges.
She was accused of cheating 1,341 people into buying non-existent Keppel Club memberships, in a ruse that lasted for about a decade between June 2004 and August 2014.
Keppel Club stopped selling transferable memberships in 1989. Individuals who wanted to join the club after 1989 had to buy the membership from an existing member at an agreed upon price, including a S$12,000 transfer fee and an account activation fee.
Setho, who had worked at the club for 48 years and risen through the ranks to become the general manager’s personal assistant, started to sell “phantom” memberships in 2004. She told prospective buyers that there were memberships for sale when in fact, there were none.
Her victims were told to make payments to four bank accounts controlled by her friend and club member Ivy Cheo Soh Chin.
AdvertisementAdvertisementCheo, 67, would then withdraw the money – pocketing S$500 to S$1,000 as commission – before handing the rest to Setho, who pocketed more than S$11 million in total.
To create accounts for new members, Setho turned to her colleague Nah Hak Chuah, 67, whom she had worked with since 1991. In all, Nah created 1,280 accounts for the individuals who had bought the fake memberships between 2004 and 2014.
Cheo was sentenced to four and half years’ jail in January, while Nah was sentenced to three years’ jail.
Taking into account a S$3.65 million settlement reached earlier this month, Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi sought at least 12 years’ imprisonment for Setho's actions, which he said were difficult to detect and caused a “staggering loss”. Prosecutors had originally asked for a sentence of at least 15 years’ jail.
Setho, who is wheelchair-bound, has serious spinal problems and suffers from diabetes and hypertension, according to medical reports. The reports also stated that she would have a “zero per cent” chance of surviving a 10-year jail term.
Mr Hon said the prison houses an assisted living unit and would be able to deal with Setho’s medical conditions.
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