Court gavel

Donations by believers to the Sri Sakthi Narayani Amma society in India were routed through Woo, who simply pocketed all the money. Photo courtesy: Pixabay/QuinceCreative

A con woman in Singapore has been sentenced to 10 years and 6 months in prison for posing as a spiritual leader connected to an ashram in India, and for duping her followers out of SGD 7 million, telling them to accumulate “good karma”.

Woo May Hoe, 54, who reportedly posed as a “deity”, was sentenced today in the Singapore State Courts. She had pleaded guilty in May to three counts of assault and two counts of cheating.

Not only did Woo pose as some sort of a living goddess, but she also told her 30-odd followers — believers in Sri Sakthi Narayani Amma — to cleanse themselves of “bad karma” and gather “good karma” by donating to the Sri Sakthi Narayani Amma society in India. These donations were routed through Woo, who simply pocketed all the money. This went on from 2012 to 2020.

The con woman also ordered her followers to buy property and vehicles, which she used for her own use. Some of the followers were used as her personal servants and housekeepers.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Grace Chua had informed the court in the course of the trial that some of these followers or their family members suffered from medical problems. They were made to believe that the donations and the service — equalling good karma — would help them get better.

Chua revealed that followers who angered Woo were assaulted in various ways: some were hit by hard items like canes; some were stabbed with scissors; some had their teeth pulled out; some were told to stare at the sun. The worst punishments were being asked to eat human excrement and being made to jump from a height.

A 43-year-old female follower, identified as V2 in the court documents, is left with permanent eye damage from being hit on the head and then staring at the sun. This victim also suffered ankle fractures after being forced to jump from the second floor to the first floor of a building; and she had her teeth pulled out by a follower, identified as V3, under orders from Woo.

In 2020, some followers went to the police against Woo, and she was arrested.

The DPP mentioned Woo having paranoid schizophrenia during the period when she committed her offences, but a medical assessment by the Institute of Mental Health found no link between the two things.