Social worker took $52k from nursing-home seniors

Joney Song Siang Siang kept money from cheques for the elderly and withdrew cash from two men's bank accounts.
Joney Song Siang Siang kept money from cheques for the elderly and withdrew cash from two men's bank accounts.

A former medical social worker, who siphoned off more than $47,000 from the bank accounts of two elderly nursing home residents, has admitted to misappropriating another $4,200 from seven more senior citizens.

Joney Song Siang Siang, 38, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of criminal breach of trust.

She admitted to two similar charges in May.

Song, who worked at Grace Lodge nursing home in Sengkang from June 1 to Aug 11, 2017, was sentenced to eight months' jail over these three charges.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sunil Nair said the Central Provident Fund Board routinely mails cheques under the Silver Support Scheme to the home. The initiative provides retirement assistance for people who have had low incomes throughout their lives.

As part of her job, Song opened mail and filed the cheques into residents' case files.

In July 2017, she was entrusted with seven cheques for $600 each.

After preparing authorisation letters and indemnity forms, she obtained the home director's approval to encash the cheques on the residents' behalf. But she later decided to keep the monies for herself and resigned on Aug 11, 2017.

The home found out what she had done during an audit in September last year.

In separate cases, she persuaded two other elderly men under her care to activate their ATM cards before making off with their money.

Song accompanied Mr Ho Park Tong, 77, and Mr Han Lee Fong, 80, during the activation process and noted down their personal identification numbers. She later went to several ATMs in July 2017 to withdraw cash and make transfers from the men's bank accounts.

 
 
 

The court heard that from July 3 to 17, 2017, Song misappropriated nearly $40,700 from Mr Ho's account. She also accessed Mr Han's account from July 27 to 29 that year to perform 23 transfers and withdrawals totalling nearly $7,000.

Song threw away the cards after committing the offences.

The offences involving the ATM transactions came to light in January last year when her replacement checked the two victims' bank statements and spotted suspicious transactions. The police were alerted later that month.

Song has since made full restitution. For each count of criminal breach of trust, she could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2019, with the headline 'Social worker took $52k from nursing-home seniors'. Subscribe