S'pore man, 55, forges degrees from top unis to get high-paying jobs, gets caught after 12 years when firm checks with NTU

He asked the judge if the media could be prevented from publishing his name.

Ruth Chai | November 25, 2022, 06:55 PM

A 55-year-old man was sentenced to 15 months' jail on Nov. 24 for forging degrees from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which eventually landed him high-paying jobs and even a role as a chief finance officer.

Yeoh Keng Swee pleaded guilty to three counts of forgery for the purpose of cheating, with another 10 charges taken into consideration.

He had forged degree certificates for courses such as engineering, law and accountancy in order to apply for positions, such as for the roles of finance director and chief finance officer.

What he did

Yeoh would search for PDF copies of the documents on the Internet and print them out as a template.

He would print out his name and other relevant details that he wished to change onto another piece of paper, and would cut them out and paste them over the template.

Finally, he would photocopy the edited template to produce the forged documents.

How he got caught

According to CNA, his crimes dated back to 2009, when he forged a Bachelor of Accountancy degree certificate allegedly issued by NTU.

He was caught in January 2021, after a job interview at Success Forever Construction and Maintenance Pte Ltd for the position of construction project manager.

He provided forged copies of the qualifications, and claimed that he was in too much of a rush to provide the original documents.

In subsequent interviews, he failed to answer questions that tested his technical knowledge.

After he overheard his interviewer and her employer discussing verification of his qualifications, Yeoh withdrew his job application.

He asked the interviewer to destroy the supporting documents he had submitted before leaving.

Managed to work at top positions for years

Court documents only included details of his jobs in recent years before he got caught, between July 2019 and January 2021.

In July 2019, Yeoh forged the relevant documents required to land him an position as a chief financial officer at Boon Chang Structure Pte Ltd.

The documents included a Bachelor of Accountancy with an honours degree certificate purportedly issued by NTU, a Master of Science in Business Administration degree certificate purportedly issued by Andrews University, as well as certification stating that he was a practising accountant.

He was hired for the role in September 2019, but he received numerous complaints for his poor work performance.

Eventually, he resigned in December 2019, citing poor eyesight and fatigue as his reasons.

However, during his short tenure, he was paid S$14,324.75 remuneration.

In January 2020, Yeoh forged a series of similar degrees stating his qualifications in the field of accountancy to apply for the role of finance director at Gain City Best-Electric Pte Ltd.

He was also hired for the job and started work in February 2020.

However, similar to his previous experience, he was terminated in July 2020 for failing to meet performance criteria.

During his tenure, he was paid a total of S$51,258.46.

Defence asked for a lighter sentencing

On Jan. 19, 2019, a police report was lodged by a representative on behalf of NTU, stating that the university had received a request for degree verification.

It was found that the degree certificate submitted by Yeoh was indeed forged.

The police report was filed after the interview where Yeoh withdrew his application.

CNA reported that Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Zu Zhao asked for 15 to 18 months' jail.

The prosecution said it was not asking for compensation for the victims as Yeoh did not have the means to do so.

In court, Yeoh asked the judge if the media could be prevented from reporting his name as he did not want his family and friends to find out what he had done.

The judge replied that there was no gag order.

Yeoh's lawyer, Audrey Koo, stated that her client is now working as a kitchen assistant-cum-cashier, earning S$850 to S$1,000 monthly.

She said Yeoh had shown remorse for his actions and had avoided having any more run-ins with the law.

He did not have any prior convictions, and had cooperated fully with the police.

It was also mentioned that Yeoh suffers from ailing health with conditions, such as high blood pressure and kidney disease.

The judge was in general agreement with the prosecution, and assured that the prisons would be made aware of Yeoh's health issues.

Top photo via Unsplash