A 20-year-old Singaporean male was given 18 months' probation on Tuesday (Jan. 19), after cheating the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) out of S$2,500 in Covid-19 grants.
Yee Jia Hao, who is a full-time national serviceman (NSF), will also have to perform 60 hours of community service, and attend a gambling relapse prevention programme.
Yee made eight false TRF applications
In April 2020, MSF launched the Temporary Relief Fund (TRF), which provided financial support to Singaporeans who were severely affected by the economic impact of Covid-19.
The TRF is a one-off interim assistance scheme, which was meant to help Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) who have lost their jobs, or a substantial portion of their income due to Covid-19.
Between April 16 and April 30, 2020, Yee made eight fraudulent online TRF applications.
Two of them were made in his name, while the remaining six were made in the names of his parents and friends.
According to the Singapore Police Force (SPF), he had requested for their SingPass credentials and One-Time Passwords (OTP) on the pretext of assisting them to apply for government grants or SkillsFuture courses.
In reality, Yee submitted TRF applications to MSF, without seeking the consent of his parents and friends, and made various false declarations in these applications.
In all eight applications, Yee falsely declared that the applicants had lost at least 30 per cent of their personal income due to Covid-19.
He also provided his PayNow bank account details in these applications for the pay-out to be disbursed to him.
These fraudulent applications were subsequently detected in the course of MSF's post-disbursement audits for TRF. which were meant to verify the eligibility of applicants.
Minister K Shanmugam warned TRF fraud carried a jail sentence
In April 2020, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said that the government had been looking into some cases of allegedly fraudulent TRF claims.
He said that action will be taken against those who cheated the system, and that the offence carried a heavy jail sentence.
Shanmugam then added that the authorities would be unlikely to take action against those who have returned the money.
Days later, more than 500 people offered to return the S$500 they had received from the TRF, with many claiming that they have submitted incorrect information in their applications.
Others said that they no longer needed the extra support.
According to MSF, the returned sum amounts to more than S$250,000.
Top image via Desmond Lee/FB.