Hello, I wish to share my cousin’s predicament in hopes of finding a solution for it from the community as the law doesn’t seem to be doing justice for him.
Basically, he has a low IQ, and he is the breadwinner of the family. He has a sister who is slightly intellectually disabled, and his father who is in a nursing home. He makes ends meet by collecting plates, washing the dishes, and cleaning stalls at the hawker centre.
He works hard to earn his keep, evident from his rotting hands from the chemicals during his course of work and skinny build.
He works daily without a real off day, but worst of all, he was exploited by a woman named “Ah Soon” (He even had trouble telling if this person was a male or female, so this case has nothing to do with cheating by love/lust) to hand over about 100K SGD (this is my cousin’s family’s lifesavings).
This is going to be a lengthy post to help everyone understand the full picture as much as possible to my knowledge. Please note that due to his low IQ, he is gullible and some of his actions will appear illogical and lack common sense.
One day, he called my mum and tried to get her to safekeep her gold in bank deposit through a friend. Sensing that something was amiss, we warned him that he shouldn’t do it as this person might have ulterior motives. True enough, this “friend”, Ah Soon, refuses to return the gold pieces when requested, and demanded for a payment to get the items back (have not been returned till date).
After I got to know about it, I accompanied my cousin to make a police report, under the offence of “criminal breach of trust”. Thereon, I learnt that Ah Soon had been coercing my cousin to “lend” her an accumulative sum of about $100k on multiple occasions without a proper loan record. Moreover, she has been residing at my cousin’s place without paying rent for a long time and my cousin is afraid of kicking her out of the house. When probed about why he handed over the money, he simply said that she would scold him and harass him when he refused.
At this juncture, I have the impression that Ah Soon is taking advantage of my cousin’s mental capacity and achieving her schemes through aggression. The Police do not have jurisdiction over the loan and have advised that it can only be resolved through private legal channels.
After confronting her about the money and gold situation, she explained that she had financial difficulties for her business, but she was not trying to cheat my cousin, as she would have run away otherwise. She also admitted that she had pawned the gold which was meant to be deposited in the bank (She already confessed about this to the Police during her statement taking prior to my confrontation) but gave a different account of what she told my cousin (likely to dodge legal liabilities by denying that the gold was taken on the pretext of safekeeping in the bank).
When probed about the loan, she claimed that she did not have a record of when and how much was loaned (obviously, since she had no intention of returning). Also, she attempted to lie about the loan amount being about 60k, which was not true, since a quick check of my cousin’s bank account indicated more. In response, I suggested both parties conduct a thorough check of the total amount, so that I may draft a loan agreement that is fair for both parties.
As a simpleton, my cousin had no records of the money lent and was unaware of when or how much was lent in total. Therefore, we checked the bank withdrawals for the loan to Ah Soon, which amounted to about 100k over a period of a few months from 2021 to 2022. During the check, I noticed that their savings (my cousin, his sister, & his father) were depleted. This explains why Ah Soon targeted my cousin’s gold.
On the day of drafting the loan agreement (26 Apr 2022), both parties agreed to a total loaned amount of 90k, without any interest (bad move), and that Ah Soon would start paying a minimum of $1k per month from June 2022 till it is fully paid. The absence of interest and minimal payment condition was agreed out of goodwill since she appeared to be sincere about it (but we were wrong).
As of July, she has not repaid the loan or returned the gold, and my cousin has expressed his intent to pursue the issue legally. As the situation is getting out of hand, we sought Dr Tan Wu Meng’s assistance at the Clementi Meet-The-People session for my cousin’s predicament, where he kindly referred us to the Legal Aid Bureau (LAB) for the case.
During the initial engagement with the LAB, I was not allowed to speak on my cousin’s behalf even though he had problems expressing himself or answering questions pertaining to his case. Also, I found out that my cousin was still “lending” money to Ah Soon, even though she was not repaying my cousin, even though the Police, my mother, and I advised him not to do it.
Sadly, as my cousin had trouble expressing himself coherently and providing the necessary information needed for the case, the Legal Aid Board was unable to provide legal aid as they were unable to establish the veracity of the full facts to his claims. He was told to engage private solicitors to act for him if he wishes to pursue the monetary claim.
At this point, I think engaging a lawyer will incur a cost that is likely unrecoverable. This is because even if they file a claim against Ah Soon successfully, I doubt it will be fruitful since she has no asset (no property since she’s freeloading at my cousin’s house) and likely no money in her bank to make the repayment at all. Also, I am unsure if engaging debt collection services would be feasible. This is because she is residing at my cousin’s place and even if they were to talk to her at her stall, she’s just going to abuse my cousin verbally when she’s back.
My cousin’s story needs to be told to the community and I would appreciate the public’s kind advice on how to help him as I am at my wit’s end.
All of this makes me feel as if there is no justice and that evil hearted people are allowed to exist in our society without repercussions to take advantage of those who are attempting to earn a living honestly. Even though my cousin might seem foolish, it is painful to see him working so hard and then being exploited like that without us being able to do anything about it.