QR codes among new tools to prevent false SkillsFuture claims

The Government plans to roll out QR codes for attendance-taking at SkillsFuture courses next year to prevent fraudulent claims.

The move is one of a series of new technology enhancements by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) to crack down on false claims.

They stem from the formation of the Inter-Agency Process Review Task Force last year in response to a series of offences that involved $40 million worth of fraudulent claims being paid out by SSG.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat said during a visit to SSG yesterday that it was crucial to "beef up the fraud management system".

"We are using public funds, so we have a duty to make sure these funds are used appropriately to support the continuous lifelong learning needs of Singaporeans," he added.

"We want to make sure that this is not tarnished by the actions of a small number of black sheep."

Last year, more than 4,400 individuals falsely claimed to have attended SkillsFuture courses, claiming credits that amounted to more than $2 million.

Using QR codes for attendance-taking aims to deter such claims.

Course attendees will be e-mailed a code that is valid only during the course session and will be linked to their SingPass accounts.

Another step will use data analytics and machine learning to detect anomalies in claims submissions.

Previously, random claims were manually checked.

More than 600,000 claims are lodged every year, so the new tech method serves as a more efficient way of detecting suspicious claims.

SSG chief executive Ng Cher Pong said: "With fraudsters devising increasingly elaborate scams, our fraud risk management system is evolving to better safeguard the funds earmarked for the skills development of our workforce.

"Specifically, we are making better use of technology and data to enhance our capabilities."

However, Mr Chee said technology has to go hand in hand with traditional methods such as whistle-blowing to better detect fraud.

"I think, with this system in place, we can better support the positive benefits of SkillsFuture," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2019, with the headline 'QR codes among new tools to prevent false SkillsFuture claims'. Print Edition | Subscribe