Man, 29, jailed 5 months for falsely claiming he lost his job due to Covid-19 to get relief funds

He had voluntarily left his job due to personal reasons.

Syahindah Ishak | November 20, 2020, 06:51 PM

The Temporary Relief Fund (TRF) and Covid-19 Support Grant (CSG) were announced as part of Singapore's Resilience Budget to help those affected by the pandemic.

Only workers who had been retrenched, put on no-pay leave or suffered wage cuts due to Covid-19 were eligible for the schemes.

29-year-old Chow Jia Chuan, however, had lied in order to retrieve the relief funds.

On Nov. 19, Chow was sentenced to five months jail after pleading guilty to one count of cheating and two counts of attempted cheating, as reported by The New Paper.

Succeeded the first time

According to court documents seen by Mothership, Chow had voluntarily resigned from an executive position in IT firm Tabsquare in April 2020.

He cited his dislike for the job and had some interpersonal issues with a colleague as reasons for his resignation.

Before his last day of work, he accessed the TRF application portal and dishonestly declared in his application that he had lost his job due to Covid-19.

His application was accepted and S$500 was disbursed to him on April 21.

Tried again

After succeeding the first time, Chow attempted the act again.

On May 5, he applied for the CSG.

Once again, he dishonestly declared in his application that he lost his job to Covid-19.

Unlike the TRF, the CSG required supporting documents, which Chow did not provide.

A Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) officer noticed that no supporting documents were uploaded and contacted Chow via email to request for them.

Chow then decided to forge a retrenchment letter in order to deceive MSF.

To make it look legitimate, he copied the signature block of the human resource business partner from Tabsquare.

On May 14, Chow sent the MSF officer the forged letter via email.

However, his lie was exposed when the MSF officer contacted the Tabsquare business partner.

His CSG application was subsequently rejected.

And again

On May 20, Chow received an SMS saying that his CSG application had been unsuccessful.

The next day, he tried to reapply with the same forged retrenchment letter.

As the MSF officer had already determined that Chow had made a false declaration in his first CSG application, his second CSG application was not processed.

On May 27, the same officer lodged a police report.

In need of financial assistance

According to The Straits Times, Chow's lawyer said that he had committed the offences out of desperation to meet his financial needs and pressure from futile job searches.

The district judge granted Chow's request to defer his sentence until Nov. 30 so that he can settle his personal affairs.

For each offence, Chow could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

Chow had refunded the S$500 TRF grant in July.

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Top image by Nigel Chua.