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Scammer cheats 6 out of over $2.85 million, Singapore News

SINGAPORE – A scammer cheated six people, who had already suffered losses in earlier investments, by claiming that he could help them recover their monies.

Murlidharan Muhundan, 47, then duped them out of more than $2.85 million in total through a series of “fees”, “commissions” and other fictitious payments. Without revealing details, the prosecution said that he was earlier convicted of similar offences in 2014.

For the current case, the Singaporean, who committed the offences from June 2020 to October 2022, pleaded guilty on April 5 to 18 counts of cheating involving more than $1 million. Another 40 similar charges linked to the remaining amount will be considered during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Kenny Yang and Kiera Yu stated in court documents that Murlidharan had slowly earned the trust of his victims, who were between 57 and 77 years old.

The first victim was a 77-year-old female retiree who was an investor in a failed “Gold Crown timeshare” investment scheme.

Murlidharan was not part of the “Gold Crown timeshare” investment scheme and the DPPs did not disclose its details in court documents.

In 2020, he worked as a sales and operations manager at a debt collection firm called Republic Business Consultancy (RBC).

While working as debt collector, he came across clients who wanted to terminate and recover monies from their timeshare investments.

Murlidharan knew that it was not possible to recover monies from such investments.

Despite this, he decided to cheat his victims as he needed money to pay his gambling debts and repay his loans from illegal moneylenders, the DPPs said.

He also knew that the woman had previously lost money in a failed Gold Crown timeshare investment scheme.

She received a phone call from Murlidharan who referred to himself as “Darren”. He asked her to meet him at RBC’s office at People’s Park Centre shopping mall near Chinatown, and she turned up there on July 9, 2020.

Murlidharan then lied to her, claiming that an organisation called “Bhagyam Agencies” had purportedly recovered £575,000 (S$979,000) from her earlier investment and that she needed to fork out $30,000 as “fees” to receive it.

Six days later, the woman and her husband met Murlidharan in Orchard Road and handed him the amount.

After that, she received a receipt, purportedly issued by “Bhagyam Agencies Bangalore”, stating that the so-called payment was made.

Over multiple occasions, Murlidharan cheated the woman of another $310,000 until late 2020.

On Jan 30, 2021, her son lodged a police report, claiming that she had been duped into making the payments.

Court documents did not state what happened next, but Murlidharan left RBC and joined a firm called Conquistador Debt Management as its head of operations in May 2021. The court heard that he also cheated five more people by using a similar method before he was caught and charged in court in May 2022.

On April 5, the DPPs urged the court to sentence him to between eight and nine years’ jail.

They added: “The fact that the victims handed (over) monies as a result of the accused’s deception on over 60 occasions for an extended period of time shows persistence on the part of the accused and a deliberate choice to continue scamming these victims.”

Murlidharan is represented by lawyers Sunil Sudheesan and Joyce Khoo from Quahe Woo & Palmer, who pleaded for their client to be given around six years’ jail.

The lawyers said that he has a seven-year-old daughter and his wife is currently the family’s sole breadwinner.

Murlidharan will be sentenced on May 3.

ALSO READ: 339 suspects being investigated over scam cases where victims lost more than $10m ↗

This article ↗ was first published in The Straits Times ↗. Permission required for reproduction.

Kaylie Pferten
Kaylie Pferten
A pilot of submersible crafts in a former life, now married to my husband David and writing about investment advice.

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