Jail for woman who ran Marina Bay Sands hotel stay scam to pay off debts

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SINGAPORE: After racking up debts through excessive spending, Vanessa Faye Tan Jiewen devised a scheme to sell hotel room bookings worth a total of S$4,150 that customers never received.

The 27-year-old woman also cheated two acquaintances of money to pay off what she owed.

On Wednesday (Mar 15), she was sentenced to six months' jail after pleading guilty to five charges of cheating. Seven more charges were taken into consideration.

The court heard that in March 2022, Tan ran a series of hotel stay scams on e-commerce platform Carousell. Her charges involve cheating eight victims over a span of days.

At the time, Tan received complimentary hotel stays as a member of Marina Bay Sands. She knew that the complimentary stays were non-transferable and could not be sold.

Despite this, she offered two-night stays of S$300 to S$500 a room on Carousell.

The prosecution said that Tan did not intend to provide the hotel stays as she knew that she was not allowed to sell them, and intended to get money from interested customers to pay off her debts.

Seven of her victims bought stays at Marina Bay Sands, while one bought a stay at The St. Regis. None received the bookings they bought.

DECEIVED ACQUAINTANCES

In 2021, Tan also separately deceived two men whom she had befriended online into transferring thousands of dollars to her.

Around July 2021, she lied to a 26-year-old male acquaintance that she needed S$4,000 as her mother had been hospitalised. He transferred the money to her, and she also obtained another S$1,500 from him.

In September 2021, she got S$2,000 from a 59-year-old male acquaintance after telling him that she had to borrow money to pay off her family's debt.

Later that month, he lent Tan another S$1,000 after she lied that she had been involved in an accident and needed to settle the bill for it.

The prosecution sought six to eight months' imprisonment, pointing out that Tan used Carousell to reach a larger pool of victims.

"There is a strong public interest in deterring potential offenders from using the Internet to reach a large number of potential victims," said the prosecutor.

The district judge noted that Tan had profited a total of S$12,650 without making restitution to any of the victims.

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