Woman forged retrenchment letter to get Covid-19 Support Grant, cheated MSF of $4k

Shaffiq Alkhatib
The Straits Times
Sep 13, 2021

A woman who forged a retrenchment letter to access a grant aimed at helping workers who had lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic cheated the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) of $4,000 in total.

Tiong Shi Lin, now 32, submitted a picture of it in her Covid-19 Support Grant (CSG) application, among other things.

The forged letter was found in her laptop bag last November by a colleague after she handed over her company-issued computer for repair.

Her colleague then alerted the firm.

Tiong was on Monday (Sept 13) sentenced to seven months' jail after she pleaded guilty to two counts of cheating and one count of forgery.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Phang said that the Government had launched initiatives including the CSG to tide workers through the pandemic.

"(The MSF) sought to help financially those who had involuntarily lost their jobs or income due to the pandemic," he added.

"The accused, seeing instead a unique opportunity for illicit gain, dishonestly induced MSF to disburse $4,000 to her, through various CSG applications containing false declarations of her income and employment status, as well as a forged termination letter."

The court heard that Tiong was working for spare parts supplier TVH Singapore from October 2019 to February last year.

She joined Assurance Technology, which deals with healthcare information technology, in April last year.

Sometime around April to May last year, she hatched a plan to dupe MSF into disbursing to her cash grants under the CSG.

Tiong then submitted an online application for the grant, claiming she had been jobless since Feb 2 last year.

The ministry rejected this first application on May 19 last year as she did not provide sufficient supporting documentation to show her loss of employment.

She submitted a second application the next day, declaring that she had received no salary for March, April and May last year.

The court heard that Assurance Technology had, in fact, paid her in April and May. Court documents did not disclose if she is still working there.    

To support her application, Tiong submitted documents including screenshots of messages from her then supervisor at TVH Singapore to show that her employment there had been terminated.

MSF later disbursed her $2,400.

She re-offended a few months later and forged a retrenchment letter, purportedly from Assurance Technology, stating that her employment there was to be terminated on Sept 14 last year.

Tiong then attached a picture of the letter to another CSG application last October.

MSF disbursed another $1,600 to her, the court heard.

On Monday, defence lawyer Christopher Bridges pleaded for his client to be given six months' jail and told the court that she is in the process of making restitution to MSF.

Tiong's bail has been set at $10,000 and she was ordered to surrender herself at the State Courts on Sept 20 to begin serving her sentence.

For each count of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

The Straits Times

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