Two years, four months for serial conman

|     Fadley Faisal     |

THE Magistrate’s Court yesterday handed a sentence of two years and four months to a local man who pleaded guilty to a series of offences in cheating people.

The defendant Muhammad Luqmanul Mustaqim Fakhri bin Azlan, 23, was a driver employed with a local company.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Amiriah binti Haji Ali informed the court in November 2018, the defendant had offered to sell motorcycle one for BND3,000 to victim number one.

The defendant offered motorcycle one in exchange for a motorcycle two which victim number one had earlier purchased from him, and was having problems.

Believing that the defendant was authorised to sell motorcycle one, victim number one agreed to pay him by bank transfer to the defendant’s bank account of BND3,000.

Shortly afterwards, the defendant made withdrawals of BND1,000 to settle off his debts, while motorcycle one was never delivered.

Realising that he had been cheated, victim number one filed a police report at 11am on November 14, 2018.

The second victim lodged a police report on April 21 this year, in relation to another cheating case involving the defendant.

Investigations revealed that sometime in July 2018, the defendant had travelled to a rented house in Kampong Lugu, on motorcycle three.

While there, the defendant convinced another man to swap his pink motorcycle four for motorcycle three.

The pink motorcycle was then sent to the defendant’s house at Jalan Bengkurong Masin, Burong Lepas, where it was discovered that the tyres were flat.

The defendant then told the other man to collect motorcycle three, and to leave motorcycle four with him.

Immediately afterwards, the defendant took photos of motorcycle four and shared them on his WhatsApp group chat.

When he learned from the group members that motorcycle four had been stolen from its original owner, he contacted the woman – victim number two – to tell her that the motorcycle was at his house.

After identifying motorcycle four as hers, victim number two told the defendant that he could keep it at his house.

The following day, the defendant indicated his interest to purchase motorcycle four, which victim number two agreed to in exchange for BND1,000 in cash or BND1,500 in instalments.

The defendant accepted her offer and agreed to pay the amount of BND1,500 by way of BND100 in instalments.

When he learnt victim number two had motorcycle five, which was also stolen, he traced its whereabouts to a workshop in Lambak and then informed her of his intent to purchase it.

When victim agreed to sell the motorcycle for BND6,500 by instalments, the defendant accepted the offer and brought motorcycle five to his house, where he realised that it needed repairs.

After receiving a quotation from a workshop employee that repairs would cost BND11,000, he sold it to another person.

Victim number two contacted the defendant via WhatsApp for the payments, but he only transferred BND50 to her bank account and said that he would pay the remaining balance after salary day.

She insisted on being paid the full amount, but the defendant made excuses, and never settled the remaining balance.

Sometime in May this year, the defendant contacted a poster on Facebook, who was looking for big-sized cars.

The poster responded to the messages and said that his friend – victim number three – was interested in purchasing the defendant’s black car one.

Subsequently, the defendant delivered the car to victim number three, for which he received BND2,000.

A few days later, victim number three attempted to get his money back, as car one which he purchased had an outstanding balance of BND1,970. He also learned that the defendant had not owned the car.

Unable to contact the defendant and feeling cheated, victim number three lodged a police report on June 22.

On May 24, while using his wife’s Facebook account, the defendant saw an ad for a rental car company.

The defendant rented a car, and contacted the rental car company. He also contacted a runner to deal with the collection of the car, who was paid BND40-50.

After collecting black car two from the car rental company, the runner brought it to the defendant’s rented room in a house at Jalan Sengkurong ‘B’ in Jalan Selayun.

Two days later, the defendant posted an ad for the sale of car two on Facebook, which was billed as JUAL KERETA MURAH-MURAH.

Immediately afterwards, the defendant received a message from victim number four, who expressed interest in purchasing the car.

The following day, the defendant asked his neighbour to hand over the key to car two to victim number four, from whom he received a deposit of BND900.

However, when pressed about the car documentation, the defendant became evasive and gave several excuses.

Feeling cheated, victim number four lodged a police report on June 15.

Investigations also showed that the deposit money of BND900 was used to pay off the defendant’s debts.

On June 25, victim number five lodged a police report saying that he had met the defendant at the Bunut Petrol Station to borrow BND400, and had handed car three over as collateral.

Later, when he tried to retrieve his car, he was told that it had been sold to another person for BND800.

On June 26, victim number six lodged a police report regarding car three, which he had bought for BND2,200 from the defendant.

The purchase had been made in early June, upon the signing of an agreement.

When victim number five asked for the car documentation, he was told that it was still at the bank, and that he would have to pay BND700 for the processing in transfer of ownership.

Victim number six then passed a smartphone and BND150 to the defendant.

A few days later, the victim contacted the defendant to ask for his BND2,200 back, as he needed to send money to his family in the Philippines.

The defendant was unable to return the money to victim number six, as he had already spent it on personal expenses. He was also hesitant when victim number six talked about selling the car to another buyer.

The defendant was arrested at his house in Kampong Sengkurong on July 1, after the police learned about the collective reports lodged against him.

Magistrate Pengiran Hazirah binti Pengiran Haji Mohd Yusof presided over the case.