For the last 15 years, 70-year-old Tan Soy Kiang has slaved away at two jobs, borrowed money from relatives and generally beaten up his body to pay off a $400,000 debt he believed he owed the government.
Why did he believe that? Because he’s a simple man with the innocence of a child — easy prey for two cruel women who knew they could diabolically con him.
How did it start?
Fifteen years ago, Boo Sok Hiang and Tan Hwee Ngo approached Tan and explained that he owed large sums of money to the government.
They told Tan that he would be thrown in prison if he didn’t pay. Distraught, Tan pleaded for other options.
Boo and the other woman said that he could begin paying off his debt through them as middlemen — but he was not allowed to miss a pay day.
How did he remove his “debt?”
The elderly man, who hunches due to a painful spinal injury, picked up two jobs. In the mornings, he dragged his aging body across the city to sweep the Singaporean streets; after, he would rush to his second job by 4 p.m. to pump gas as an attendant. He finished at 10:30 p.m. and walked home, miserable and beat. He did all of this for 15 years.
Tan’s total monthly earnings amounted to only $2,000, which he would promptly hand over to the women at the end of each month after receiving his paycheck.
But the women explained that it wasn’t enough — so they convinced him to hand over his $53,000 in life savings as well!
Thank God for Tan’s niece …
When Tan’s niece, Pamela Lim, returned to Singapore from Australia (after 15 years, mind you), she was shocked by his pitiful living conditions. On top of that, she was flabbergasted by how he had to rush to work, limping and dragging his feet early in the morning.
Ashamed, he told her that he had failed in business and that he was paying off his debt. But Lim didn’t buy it — something was amiss.
Tan told The New Paper:
“At first I told her I used to have a failed business, that I’m still paying up the bad debt but she didn’t believe me and kept on and on at me until I confessed what was really happening.”
According to Lim:
“My uncle was constantly hungry and was always borrowing money from my mother and the residents at Kim Keat Avenue. He has two jobs … I questioned him constantly until he revealed what was happening.”
Astonished, Lim immediately took to action. She cleverly set up a meeting with the women robbing her uncle, and brought a video camera along with her.
Meet the Culprits
When confronted by Lim, who must be one tough cookie, the two women confessed on the spot.
“I got them to confess on video what they did and even had them agree they would pay my uncle back. We were nice enough to agree that they return $500 a month,” Lim said.
After the meeting, which Lim wanted to handle “amicably,” the women promised to never ask for money again. (At the time, no one knew how much they had taken exactly. But Tan had been handing them $2,000 a month, on top of the $53,000 in life savings.)
It didn’t take long for the dream team, however, to start asking for money again. Maybe they thought Lim had gone back to Australia, or maybe they decided it was much better getting money than paying money. At any rate, they approached Tan again.
But that wasn’t a smart move …
Lim had video evidence of the women’s extortion! Frustrated, she handed it over to the authorities and made an official police report.
After some investigation, Tan Hwee Ngo, 65, was arrested. Her motivation? Gambling debt. Addicted to mahjong, she accumulated a nice little nest egg of debt herself: $10,000, to be exact. But even after paying off her debt, she continued taking from Mr. Tan.
Boo Sok Hiang, Ms. Tan’s 69-year-old accomplice, is assisting police in their investigation and claims she is innocent — allegedly, Ms. Tan had been ripping her off for years as well. Boo was a friend of Mr. Tan for over 50 years and is responsible for introducing him to Ms. Tan.
Regardless, the two are looking at 10 years in jail and hefty fines if found guilty.
How much did they end up stealing from Mr. Tan? Tan Hwee Ngo admits to the extortion but says she only took around $30,000.
Of course, that figure was a lie. It’s been revealed that the two had lifted a whopping $400,000 over the course of Mr. Tan’s 15 years of labor! Talk about easy money.
How’s Mr. Tan doing now?
He’s doing better now, thanks to his niece of course. But he can also be grateful for Dan Chen, 28, who, after hearing of Tan’s misfortune, decided to start an Indiegogo campaign to help him get his money back.
So far, the initiative has raised $40,000 to help Mr. Tan clear his debt (his real debt) to neighbors and relatives who loaned him money to help him clear his fake debt.
Chen is still receiving funds for the campaign and just wants Tan, now 70 years old, to live out his final years in comfort and with some much needed rest.
Source: The New Paper