Jail for woman who forged letter to get Covid-19 grant

A woman who forged a retrenchment letter to access a grant aimed at helping workers who had lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic cheated the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) of $4,000 in total.

Tiong Shi Lin, now 32, submitted a picture of it in her Covid-19 Support Grant (CSG) application, among other things.

The forged letter was found in her laptop bag last November by a colleague after she handed over her company-issued laptop for repair.

Her colleague then alerted the company.

Tiong was yesterday sentenced to seven months' jail after she pleaded guilty to two counts of cheating and one count of forgery.

The court heard that Tiong worked at spare parts supplier TVH Singapore from October 2019 to February last year.

She joined Assurance Technology, which deals with healthcare information technology, in April last year.

Some time around April to May last year, she hatched a plan to dupe MSF into disbursing cash grants to her under the CSG. She submitted an online application for the grant, claiming she had been jobless since Feb 2 last year.

The ministry rejected this first application on May 19 last year as she did not provide sufficient supporting documentation to show her loss of employment.

Tiong submitted a second application the next day, declaring that she had received no salary for March, April and May last year.

The court heard that Assurance Technology had, in fact, paid her in April and May.

To support her application, Tiong submitted documents including screenshots of messages from her then supervisor at TVH Singapore to show that her employment there had been terminated.

MSF later disbursed $2,400 to her.

She reoffended a few months later when she forged a retrenchment letter, purportedly from Assurance Technology, stating that her employment there was to be terminated on Sept 14 last year.

Tiong attached a picture of the letter to another CSG application last October.

MSF then disbursed another $1,600 to her, the court heard.

Yesterday, defence lawyer Christopher Bridges pleaded for his client to be given six months' jail and told the court that Tiong is in the process of making restitution to MSF.

Tiong's bail has been set at $10,000 and she was ordered to surrender herself at the State Courts next Monday to begin serving her sentence.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2021, with the headline 'Jail for woman who forged letter to get Covid-19 grant'. Subscribe