SINGAPORE: A property agent who sold a condominium unit for an 80-year-old woman convinced her to set up a joint bank account with him containing the S$462,300 in sale proceeds.

58-year-old Louiis Ignatius Tan Puay Meng pled guilty on Monday (Nov 27) to one count of dishonest misappropriation, with another two charges to be taken into consideration. Tan had initially been set for trial but pleaded guilty on Monday. According to a CNA report, Tan was a real estate agent working for Savills Residential, and in 2019, he helped the 80-year-old woman sell a unit in the Jupiter 18 condominium in Changi. He convinced the woman that he would “take care of her for the rest of her life” and not use any money in the account for himself. She believed him and set up a joint bank account with him.

Once the sale was completed, Tan accompanied his victim, the 80-year-old woman, to deposit the full sales proceeds of S$462,318.21 at a DBS Treasures Centre on Nov 29, 2019. Between Dec 17 and Dec 25, 2019, Tan withdrew S$20,000 from the account without the elderly woman’s knowledge or permission. He transferred the money to his POSB account via Internet banking and spent the money on his personal expenditures.

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She found out in February 2020 through a bank statement that money was missing from the account and asked for more statements. She withdrew the balance sum on Mar 2, 2020, and closed the joint account before lodging a police report. Tan will return to court for mitigation and sentencing in January.

Earlier this year, a man took to social media to share awareness after his mother ended up paying nearly S$5000 for products in a mall, with the sales staff even accompanying the senior to a POSB ATM to make sure she transferred the money to the company, as she did not know how to do this herself. On Sunday (Sept 24), Mr Hoh Kah Hui wrote, “My elderly mother fell prey to the aggressive and unethical sale tactics of VOOKA INTERNATIONAL GROUP PTE. LTD. (UEN 201532668Z),” on the COMPLAINT SINGAPORE Facebook page. He also found out the company has a history of similar actions and added negative reviews and complaints to his post as proof.

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He wrote that on Sept 15 and 16, between 3:00 and 5:00 pm, his mother was on her way from work, and while walking through Compass One, she encountered a Vooka sales staff as the company was holding a roadshow event. According to its website, Vooka markets its products, which are electrical appliances such as stir fryers and sous vide cookers, at roadshow events, and customers can try them out and then buy them right there and then. However, Mr Hoh wrote, “The sales staff were very pushy and used aggressive sale tactics to persuade my mother to spend a total of $4,965.84 on their products, and even followed her to the POSB ATM machine to make a bank transfer to their own company bank account as my mother does not know how to do so on her own.”

Read related: Elderly woman falls prey to “unethical sales tactics” costing her S$5K