Over the past two decades, US prosecutors say a Malaysian woman known as Cheah Siew Im, 59, stole at least six identities and then accumulated fraudulent wealth.
From Virginia to California, she disguised her roommate’s identity and her makeup artist before committing many scams.
A federal prosecutor described the woman as a ‘solo criminal’ and the court described her as “successfully perfecting the art of identity theft”.
Cheah Siew tricked a number of professional athletes and wealthy executives from her grandson to the late Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and a close friend of former US President Barack Obama.
The money was given to the woman who was supposed to invest in oil projects in Nigeria and several sports teams in Washington, but later spent on luxury cars, plastic surgery and luxury handbags.
In her sentencing until October 4, Judge Thomas Selby Ellis III ordered Siew Im to a 51-month jail term whose identity was questioned by the US authorities.
“I’m a little confused about her name”, Ellis said in a report by The Washington Post.
Malaysian woman Siew Im claimed her name was Lee Sau Hoong and her lawyer claimed that she was 66 years old.
But prosecutor Gordon Kromberg denied and revealed the 59-year-old accused.
“Sau Hoong is another identity she stole,” he said.
Court records show the victim included a cook, a coach, several nail technicians and a Virginia governor’s staff.
The average victim expressed anger and amazement at Siew Im’s persuasion power.
“She does not use guns, knives or physical weapons like other criminals. Language and emotion are the weapons, instigating the victims, “said Alan Perez.
When she was arrested in 2017, prosecutors say Siew Im lived in an apartment with a rent of US $14,000 a month on Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, rented on behalf of a friend’s mother.
According to court records, Siew Im entered the US from Malaysia on a visitor visa under the name Lee Sau Hoong in 2001.