MOM officer kept credit card he found; bought $6k gold ring with it

Seah Guo Rong was sentenced to eight months’ jail on Thursday after pleading guilty to two counts of cheating. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - After finding a credit card on the ground, an officer with the Ministry of Manpower took urgent half-day leave and used the card to buy a gold ring worth more than $6,000 and spent another $20 on topping up his ez-link card.

Seah Guo Rong, 36, was sentenced to eight months’ jail on Thursday after pleading guilty to two counts of cheating.

The court heard that he was earning $5,000 a month when he was working for MOM.

Seah had found the card on the side of a road in Hougang on March 16. After pocketing it, he sent a message to his supervisor at MOM saying he needed to take urgent half-day leave for the afternoon.

He went to Hougang MRT station at around 12.41pm and used the credit card to add $20 to his ez-link transit card.

Seah then travelled to Chinatown MRT station and walked around the area looking for jewelry shops. He found a shop selling watches and jewelry at People’s Park Complex and told a staff member there that he was looking for a gold ring with a high-level of purity.

After trying a few, he eventually picked a gold ring that cost $6,330 and gave the credit card he found to the employee of the shop.

Seah then signed the receipt with a fake signature that he made up on the spot.

At the same shop, he tried to purchase a gold bangle with the same credit card, but the transaction was rejected by the point-of-sale system.

Seah left and threw away the credit card and the receipt for the gold ring. He then went to Hougang MRT station and sold the ring for $4,550 at a pawn shop. He deposited the money into his bank account and disposed of the receipt from the sale of the gold ring.

Seah used the money to buy groceries, pay bills and purchase Toto tickets.

He also traded his ez-link card for a new one.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Keith Jieren Thirumaran said Seah told the police that he did so to “get rid of the evidence”.

Seeking eight to 10 months’ jail, DPP Thirumaran said the offence was committed out of greed. He added that there was a “high degree of premeditation” as Seah had taken urgent half-day leave from his job at MOM to commit the crimes.

He also took steps to avoid detection, such as disposing of the credit card and the relevant transaction receipts, added DPP Thirumaran.

Seah’s lawyer, Mr Chia Boon Teck, said in mitigation that his client was weighed down by mounting financial demands over the past few years and had “succumbed to temptation”. 

Mr Chia added that Seah used the money he received from selling the gold ring to buy Toto tickets as he was “desperate for a miracle to make ends meet”.

In response to The Straits Times’ queries, an MOM spokesman said on Friday that the police had informed the ministry of their investigations into Seah.

“Pending the outcome of investigations, we had placed him under close supervision. Seah subsequently resigned, and is no longer in the employment of the ministry with effect from Sept 2,” he added. 

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