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SINGAPORE: A former marketing and communications director with the Singapore Swimming Association was sentenced to 18 months’ jail on Wednesday (Oct 20) for cheating his friends out of money for football tickets, concert tickets and shoes.

Mohamed Hafidz Ja’afar, 38, pleaded guilty to eight charges of cheating his friends of more than S$29,000 for football tickets, concert tickets and shoes that he did not deliver. Multiple other charges were taken into consideration.

The court heard that Hafidz was jobless at the time of the offences between March 2019 and June 2019.

He deceived his friends into believing that he could buy them discounted tickets for the International Champions Cup game between Manchester United and Inter Milan in Singapore in July 2019.

He also tricked them into believing that he could secure tickets for them to the U2 concert in December 2019.

The victims paid Hafidz various amounts for the tickets, transferring him the money via PayNow or through Internet banking. After Hafidz took the money, he either did not hand over any tickets, or only part of the tickets he promised.

One of the victims asked Hafidz for tickets to the International Champions Cup game in March 2019, and Hafidz said he could get a 20 per cent discount.

The victim transferred more than S$1,000 to Hafidz for three tickets. After making payment, the victim did not receive the tickets. Hafidz claimed the tickets were sent to him by mistake, but avoided meeting the victim to hand over the tickets.

Another victim bought 16 tickets from Hafidz, but was denied entry at the stadium as the tickets were fake.

Hafidz gave a fake receipt to another victim who chased him for tickets, but when the victim presented it to the ticketing officer at the Sports Hub, he was informed that the receipt was counterfeit and the seats did not exist.

Footballer Illyas Lee paid Hafidz S$17,516 in June 2019 for 52 pairs of shoes, but received only three. Many of the victims filed police reports in July 2019.

The prosecutor sought 18 months’ jail for Hafidz, who was appointed as a representative for the Schooling family in 2016 after Joseph Schooling won Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal.

Hafidz, who was unrepresented, asked for leniency.

“The people I promised the tickets were my friends,” he said. “I overpromised. I cooperated with the police and pleaded guilty.

“These friends have been with me since 2015. They have benefited from other tickets I purchased for them.”

He added that he delivered some tickets to some people, and others who received all the tickets did not make police reports.

Hafidz asked for a shorter jail term, saying he was living with his mother and needed to care for her. He added that he had helped out with COVID-19 fighting efforts, such as working with swab centres.

On the offences against Mr Lee, he said: “He’s a footballer. I’ve been delivering shoes to him for more than a year, and that was the only time I was not able to deliver to him.”

He said he wanted to defer his jail term.

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