Woman abused Covid-19 schemes and cheated MSF out of $3.8k by forging termination letters

Shaffiq Alkhatib
The Straits Times
Feb 20, 2024

A woman repeatedly abused financial support schemes that the Government had set up to deal with the impact of Covid-19 and cheated the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) out of $3,800 in total.

On Feb 19, Nurkaziemah Karim, 32, pleaded guilty to two counts of cheating involving $2,600 in total and one count of forgery.

Five other charges, including two counts of cheating linked to the remaining $1,200, will be considered during sentencing. She has since made full restitution to MSF.

Nurkaziemah had abused two initiatives – the Temporary Relief Fund (TRF) and the Covid-19 Recovery Grant (CRG).

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kathy Chu said eligible TRF applicants received a one-off payment of $500. This was given to those who, among other conditions, had been retrenched from their jobs or suffered at least a 30 per cent loss of personal income due to Covid-19, after Jan 23, 2020.

Separately, successful CRG applicants received three monthly payments of up to $700 each. Applicants had to be unemployed due to retrenchment or involuntary contract termination at the point of application.

DPP Chu said Nurkaziemah’s husband started working as a mobile technician at a property services firm in October 2019. He later resigned from SB Property Services in April 2020.

He then worked as a delivery rider until February 2021.

On or around April 10, 2020, Nurkaziemah submitted a TRF application for him. She lied to MSF by claiming that her husband had lost his job due to Covid-19.

The ministry handed him $500 on April 13, 2020.

The DPP said Nurkaziemah started working as a human resources (HR) executive at franchise management company Deelish Brands on Dec 28, 2020.

On March 31, 2021, she sent a resignation letter to the firm and the HR director accepted it.

The prosecutor told the court that Nurkaziemah had voluntarily resigned from Deelish Brands and her employment there was not affected by Covid-19.

On or around April 11, 2021, she forged a letter of release dated March 31, 2021, bearing the firm’s letterhead. The document stated that Deelish Brands had purportedly decided to terminate her employment there due to “restructuring”.

Nurkaziemah submitted an application for a CRG and enclosed the forged letter in it. As a result, MSF handed her $2,100 in total via three disbursements of $700 each in April and May 2021.

On July 12, 2021, Nurkaziemah started working as an HR executive at logistics provider Sin Chew Woodpaq. She sent a resignation e-mail to its HR manager the following month.

On or around Sept 30, 2021, she forged a letter of release bearing Sin Chew Woodpaq’s letterhead, claiming that her employment with the firm was terminated due to restructuring. She then enclosed the forged document in another application for a CRG.

Her offences came to light when the HR manager received a call from MSF and discovered that Nurkaziemah had forged the termination letter. The police were alerted on Oct 15, 2021.

Nurkaziemah will be sentenced on Feb 28.

The Straits Times

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