St Joseph's Church, Singapore. Photo: Google Maps

A 71-year-old retiree and former church warden was sentenced to six years and two months in jail by a Singapore court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to 23 counts of fraudulently persuading acquaintances to take part in investments that did not exist between 2011 and 2016.

Ng Kwee Huay, also known as Nancie or Magdalene, who has been an undischarged bankrupt since February 2002, worked as a warden at St Joseph’s Church from 2008 to 2009. She cheated seven people between 2011 and 2015, involving more than S$1 million in all, the Shin Min Daily News reported.

The victim who lost the most was identified as Alice Chua, 72, who trusted Ng and over her 50 years of savings totaling S$979,455.50 (US$727,515) over 107 occasions from early 2013 to October 2015, to invest in various “projects” in Myanmar, Thailand and Australia, none of which in fact existed.

To convince Chua of the existence and profitability of the investments, Ng paid her back a total of S$119,527.50, claiming that these monies were returns on her investment.

By February 2016, Chua started to feel suspicious as Ng kept stalling or claiming she had to be out of the country on business-related matters.

On October 7 of the same year, Chua reported the suspected investment scam to police, who found that six other church acquaintances had fallen victim to Ng.

Among the victims were a 68-year-old retiree, a 66-year-old friend who had breast cancer, Ng’s goddaughter Isabelle Liu Ruoting and her 34-year-old Filipino husband Joseph Vidal Valdez. They were each cheated out of sums between S$1,600 and about S$58,000.

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