Jail for scam mastermind and salesman over ruse that caused WDA to lose $51,000

The court heard that Tay Sheng Yang was one of the directors of two companies, A.I. Industries and Alliance Continens. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Four men masterminded a ruse to cheat the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) which lost $51,000, a district court heard on Monday (July 8).

One of them, Tay Sheng Yang, 28 , also known as "Allister", was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to 19 cheating charges and one count of obstructing the course of justice.

He committed all the offences in 2016.

The cases involving the other three men - Lim Biao, 27, Ng Yong Jing, 28, and Joshua Tan Jun Liang, also 28 - are pending.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Grace Goh said that the SkillsFuture Credits (SFC) scheme was launched in January 2016 to encourage individuals to take ownership of their skill development and lifelong learning.

Under the scheme, all Singaporeans aged 25 and above would receive an opening credit of $500 in their SFC account which can be used to pay for approved courses.

The court heard that Tay was one of the directors of two companies, A.I. Industries and Alliance Continens. Between February and March 2016, WDA approved four courses to be funded by the SFC under the two firms.

They were in areas such as professional selling and financial modelling. DPP Goh said that Ng, also known as Sean, was the only trainer for both firms.

She added: "Some time in early 2016, Allister and Sean discussed an idea to increase the sales of courses offered by (their companies) by giving referral fees to persons who referred trainees to register for the... courses."

The court heard that Lim, who knew the pair during their university days, later became involved and the trio also talked about giving cash directly to trainees as part of an effort to increase sales. Lim later told Tan, his secondary school friend, about the plan.

The DPP said that a training provider under the SFC scheme was not supposed to pay trainees from their disbursed SFC or even enter into such agreements.

In April 2016, a company known as C.G. Marketing (CGM) was set up with the sole purpose of promoting A.I. Industries and Alliance Continens. Lim was its sole director with Tan as its manager.

Salespeople were recruited to promote the courses and one of them was Muhammad Hakimmul Hisham Razni, 35.

The DPP said: "Sean, Lim Biao, Joshua and Allister initiated a plan to cheat WDA by submitting inflated SFC claims. By having CGM give cashbacks for course registration, the plan encouraged a high sign-up rate for courses offered by A.I. Industries without trainees actually attending the courses. As a result, the WDA was cheated into delivering a total of $51,000 to A.I. Industries."

She added that Hakimmul recruited 51 trainees and a total of 102 inflated claims were submitted to WD0. He received $5,100 in total and was sentenced on Monday to 24 weeks' jail after pleading guilty to nine cheating charges.

The court was told that the offences were uncovered after WDA filed a complaint against A.I. Industries and Alliance Continens with the Commercial Affairs Department on June 1, 2016 .

Tay has paid $7,650 in restitution and Hakimmul paid $5,100.

Offenders can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each count of cheating.

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