A 50-year-old housewife fooled friends into parting with millions in a bogus investment scheme, then spent the money on racing bets, gold ornaments and other things. Yesterday her teenage daughters told the court they would prefer lives of manual labour to seeing their mother go to jail. Tang Lai-ying faces a prison term after pleading guilty in the District Court to three counts of fraud. Tang's scam ran from 1998 to 2003. She convinced two friends to hand over money so she could invest it on their behalf, then persuaded one of them to invite friends to join the fake investment programme. In total, Tang raised $5.7 million from nine people. She gave back $2.5 million in supposed interest and returns and spent the rest. In an impassioned letter written to Deputy District Court Judge Abu Bakar bin Wahab, the daughters said their mother was a hardworking, caring woman who had made a mistake in the face of heavy family and financial burdens. 'We are the daughters of Tang Lai-ying, and we want to tell you about the mother behind the crime... In our minds there is no one in this world, other than God, who is better than mom.' The letter told of how their father, an unsuccessful truck driver on the mainland, was treated in hospital for tumors and later abandoned the family. At about the same time Tang took her mother, who had cancer and was incontinent, into her home though her siblings wanted to put the mother in a nursing home. 'Mom chose to secretly take the entire burden on herself and made a wrong decision along the way... If not for that money we might not have survived to this day. We would rather go to prison with her than to be separated.' Tang confessed following her arrest in January, after the investors contacted the police. She will be sentenced on Wednesday.