GE Life insurance agent cheated more than $190,000 from 32 clients, many illiterate elderly

02-May-2019 Intellasia | Yahoo News Singapore | 6:00 AM Print This Post

For five years, an insurance agent embezzled the money entrusted to him by clients and used it to settle debts or on personal expenses.

Poh Kim Chuan, 53, cheated 32 victims, many of whom were elderly and illiterate, of more than $190,000.

Poh was jailed for two years and 10 months on Tuesday (30 April) after admitting to 14 charges of cheating and criminal breach of trust as an agent, with another 42 counts of a similar nature taken into consideration for sentencing. He was fired by his employer Great Eastern (GE) Life in 2013 for the offences.

Poh, who joined GE Life in 1992, began cheating his clients aged 44 to 78 in 2007 by misappropriating monies meant to pay premiums, top up insurance policies and buy new insurance policies.

Some clients who were cheated by Poh had a long-standing relationship with him and even relied on him to explain letters from GE Life as they could not read English.

One client, a 65-year-old woman, had been Poh’s client for at least 10 years. Poh cheated her by lying that she could withdraw $10,000 from her existing policy to buy a new GE Life saving plan. The woman, who was illiterate, ended up signing forms that she did not understand. She later transferred the money to Poh, who used it on his personal expenses and debt.

Poh’s deeds were exposed when a 53-year-old woman, who handed over $50,000 to Poh for a new insurance policy, asked for documents of her new insurance policy in June 2012. He could not produce the documents and admitted that he had pocketed the sum.

Poh asked for time to repay the woman and she agreed.

A few months later, Poh gave the woman a cheque of $50,000 but it bounced when the woman tried to cash it in. She attempted to call Poh but he was uncontactable.

The woman lodged a police report on 15 September 2012 and informed GE Life about the misappropriation. Poh admitted his offences to the police and GE Life.

He siphoned off $190,822.59 in total and has only made restitution of $850 to one client. GE Life has since stepped in to refund clients their monies or waive off their outstanding premiums.

“(Poh) shared a close and long-standing relationship with many of the victims and even went beyond his job scope to help some of them renew their road tax and car insurance,” said deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Hsiao Tien in court documents.

“(Poh) blatantly abused his position of trust to commit the offences.”

The DPP sought at least 34 months’ jail for Poh.

Poh’s lawyer Sim Cher Kwang said in mitigation that Poh was the sole provider of his elderly parents and was remorseful for the offences. He urged the court not to impose a fine.

For committing criminal breach of trust as an agent, Poh could have been jailed for life, or up to to 20 years’ jail, and fined on each count.

For cheating, he could have been jailed up to 10 years, and fined on each count.


Category: Singapore

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