SINGAPORE - For four years, Chin Ming Lik used fake qualifications to get civil engineering jobs at 38 companies.
The 49-year-old worked at each company for short periods of time between 2013 and 2017, and then moved on quickly to avoid suspicion.
Among the documents he forged were a National University of Singapore (NUS) degree scroll, certificates from the Ministry of Manpower and Singapore Polytechnic, and a GCE A-level certificate.
On Tuesday (March 5), Chin, whose actual highest academic qualification is the Primary School Leaving Examination, was sentenced to two years and 11 months' jail, and fined $1,600 for his offences.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Pei Wei told the court that the ruse came to light on Dec 2, 2016, when an assistant manager at NUS' Registrar Office received an NUS degree scroll with Chin's name for verification.
As it did not match any of the records in the university's database, it was suspected to have been forged for employment application purposes, and the assistant manager lodged a police report.
Chin was placed on a police stop list to assist with investigations, and on April 23, 2017, was arrested at Woodlands Checkpoint.
He admitted during investigations to having forged multiple certificates for employment applications when he had not actually attended any of the courses.
These included an NUS First Class in Civil Engineering degree scroll and a Building Construction Supervisors Safety Course Certificate supposedly from the Ministry of Manpower, both of which he had forged in or before January 2014.
DPP Tan said: "He had heard that project managers in civil engineering drew good salaries and decided to forge the relevant certifications in order to obtain jobs in the field."
In his resume, Chin falsely said he had 16 years of experience and to have previously worked for construction companies in Singapore.
He managed to find jobs in which he earned up to $9,000 monthly.
About two weeks before his offences were discovered, he applied for a job as project manager with CHL Construction using the same forged documents.
He was offered the job, but turned it down, as he considered the monthly salary of $7,500 too low.
After his arrest, his apartment was searched, and the authorities found a forged GCE A-level certificate and Singapore Polytechnic Certificate of Attendance for a low-cost automation course.
He had found copies of both certificates, belonging to other people, in previous jobs. He photocopied them, overlaid slips of paper with his details over the relevant fields, and then photocopied the certificates again to produce the forged documents.
Chin also made a statutory declaration on Sept 9, 2015, to excuse his inability to provide original copies of the forged certificates submitted during job applications.
It stated that he had misplaced 10 original certificates when he moved house, a statement he knew to be false, said DPP Tan.
Other offences committed by Chin included not possessing a valid driving licence when he was stopped and arrested at Woodlands Checkpoint.
He held only a provisional driving licence, as he had been disqualified from driving since 1992, and was in the process of obtaining his licence again.
He also admitted having driven four different cars without a valid licence in the past 10 years.
In addition, he committed shop theft at a FairPrice outlet in Bedok North on Sept 19, 2017, while out on court bail for the forgery offences.
In sentencing, District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said Chin had been previously sentenced to corrective training for other offences, but there had been "no rehabilitative effect". Therefore, he had to issue a sentence that serves as a deterrence.
Defence lawyer James Ow Yong said in mitigation that Chin was "deeply remorseful for his actions".
He added that Chin is the sole breadwinner of his family, which will bear the burden of his term of imprisonment.