Jail for ex-HR personnel who used former colleagues' particulars to unlawfully obtain 108 masks

Koh Pek Keang leaving the State Courts on Aug 23, 2022. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A former human resource personnel of an engineering firm obtained her then colleagues' personal data without their consent and later used their particulars to unlawfully collect 108 face masks from vending machines in 2020.

Koh Pek Keang, who held the position at G-Tech Engineering from 2000 to 2014, committed the offences as she did not want to fork out extra cash to buy face masks for her family.

The court heard that she unlawfully obtained 54 packs containing 108 masks and 162 filters worth nearly $650 in all.

On Tuesday (Aug 23), she was sentenced to 16 weeks' jail after she pleaded guilty to a cheating charge.

Koh, 43, also admitted to retaining the personal data of 60 G-Tech employees which she had obtained without their consent.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jeremy Bin said that during Koh's tenure as a human resource personnel, she managed the personal data of the firm's employees.

The information included their National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) or foreign identification numbers.

The DPP added: "Throughout the accused's employment as a human resource personnel, she concealed the fact that she retained a complete database of the employees' personal data for purposes beyond the scope of her job.

"She continued to retain updated databases of the employees' personal data until, at earliest, September 2014, shortly before she ceased working for G-Tech."

Six years later, in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic began and Singapore investment company, Temasek, started a nationwide mask distribution exercise in November that year.

Each resident could collect one free mask kit from vending machines between Nov 30 and Dec 13, 2020, by keying in his or her personal particulars into the machines.

These included their NRIC numbers or any other government-issued identification.

Koh decided to redeem more face masks than she was entitled to using the data of G-Tech employees that she had retained.

She also printed out at least 54 pieces of paper - each containing the personal data of an employee.

Koh then drove to Clementi Community Centre on Nov 30, 2020, and collected masks that her former colleagues were entitled to from the vending machines there.

Her offences came to light when five people later filed separate police reports stating that they could not redeem their free face masks from designated vending machines.

On Tuesday, DPP Bin asked for her to be sentenced to at least four months and two weeks' jail, stressing that her offences were difficult to trace.

He said: "The accused's crime was not one that could have ordinarily been detected by Temasek itself as Temasek had no means of verifying the actual identity of persons who collected face masks at the designated vending machines.

"Even after several police reports were made, significant time and resources had to be expended to identify the accused through CCTV (closed-circuit television) images."

Koh's bail was set at $10,000 on Tuesday and she was ordered to surrender herself at the State Courts on Sept 13 to begin serving her sentence.

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