SINGAPORE - A district judge rebuked a scam's "lead actor", who was so "well-rehearsed" that he fooled a Central Provident Fund (CPF) officer into thinking he was someone else - who was older and dead.
Wheelchair user Nordin Ibrahim, 44, was jailed six weeks after admitting to impersonating the late Mr Yacoob Ismail, aged 63.
Nordin's acting convinced a CPF officer to attest to "Mr Yacoob's" nomination of Nordin's accomplice - Sufian Alwe - as the beneficiary of about $52,000 in the dead man's account.
District Judge Eugene Teo, who rejected Nordin's plea for a fine instead of jail, said that while Sufian was the "director in this saga", Nordin was the "lead actor" in the set "who must have done a good job of the (deception)".
On Jan 18, 2013, Nordin had gone to the CPF Board Service Centre with Sufian. He produced the passport belonging to Mr Yacoob, who had died two days earlier in Johor Baru were he had lived since 2012.
The duo had been close to the dead man and had found the passport while cleaning out his unit but had withheld it from Mr Yacoob's family. Sufian hatched the plot and Nordin agreed to impersonate Mr Yacoob to get at his CPF money.
When queried by the officer why he looked older in the passport photo, Nordin replied that he was ill when the photo was taken.
Satisfied with the truth of his claim, the officer and another colleague signed on the nomination form as witnesses and processed the application.
About a month later, both Nordin and Sufian returned to the CPF office, where Sufian asked about Mr Yacoob's nomination details.
The duty officer checked and found that Mr Yacoob had died on Jan 16, two days before the fake nomination was made; and the two men were arrested.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Eunice Lim asked for a jail term, saying there was legitimate public interest in ensuring that public institutions, such as the CPF, are protected by a suitably deterrent sentence.
She pointed out that the offence was clearly premeditated.
Nordin's lawyer S. K. Kumar said he played a "passive" role compared to Sufian and was angry because he got nothing for looking after Mr Yacoob for about a year in Johor Baru after the family abandoned him.
Sufian, 38, had already pleaded guilty and had been jailed for two months in 2013.
DJ Teo who took a "dim view" of their actions and debunked the "convenient assertion" that Mr Yacoob would have been happy to give them his CPF money .
"After all, the dead are no longer here to tell any tales," the DJ said in judgment grounds released on Tuesday (June 21).
He added: "The deceased may have been estranged from his family, and their relationship may even have been strained at that point; but that does not mean that he never intended to leave his estate to his own family."
Nordin is appealing the case.