2 men charged with committing forgery to cheat MSF into disbursing Covid-19 Support Grants

SINGAPORE - Two Singaporean men allegedly forged retrenchment letters to dupe the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) into disbursing funds designed to help people affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Chow Jia Chuan, 29, was charged on Wednesday (July 1) with one count of cheating and one of forgery with the intention to cheat. He also faces four counts of attempted cheating.

In a separate incident, Edward Goh, 43, is accused of two counts of forgery with the intention to cheat.

Chow allegedly made a false declaration in his Covid-19 Temporary Relief Fund application on April 20, claiming that he had lost his job due to the outbreak.

The MSF is said to have given him $500 the next day.

Court documents said that Chow attempted to cheat the MSF by making a similar false declaration on May 5 in applications to a separate assistance scheme - the Covid-19 Support Grant.

The court heard that if his application had been approved, the ministry would have paid Chow $800 a month for three months.

On May 13 and 14, Chow is said to have attempted to cheat an MSF officer by repeating similar lies in his bid to get his application approved.

He is also accused of forging a retrenchment letter on May 14.

Court documents do not reveal his state of employment at the time.

He allegedly attempted to cheat MSF again on May 21.

Police said on Wednesday that his Covid-19 Support Grant application was not approved.

Goh faces similar allegations.

He is said to have forged a retrenchment letter on May 5 with the intention to cheat the MSF into disbursing a Covid-19 Support Grant to a Tan Meng Lan, whose details were not revealed in court documents.

Goh is also said to have forged a letter on May 14 in a bid to dupe the ministry into disbursing a similar grant to one Goh Keng Thow, whose details were also not revealed in court documents.

The Covid-19 Support Grant and Temporary Relief Fund provides financial support to Singaporeans affected by the economic impact of the outbreak.

Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee said on Facebook on May 31 that more than 50,000 applications for the Covid-19 Support Grant had been lodged since the scheme began earlier that month.

He added: "In processing the applications, we've regrettably come across three cases where falsified documents had been submitted. We will not hesitate to take action against those who take advantage of assistance schemes.

"Attempts to defraud the system will slow down the process of us getting help to applicants who genuinely need assistance."

Goh told the court on Wednesday that he will plead guilty while Chow said he intends to engage a lawyer.

The men were offered bail of $10,000 each. Their cases have been adjourned to July 29.

An offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each conviction of forgery with the intention to cheat.

This article has been edited for clarity.

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