A secondary school teacher made two counterfeit Singapore $100 notes to supposedly use in a classroom lesson, but ended up handing them to a Vietnamese woman as payment for massage services.
Yesterday, District Judge Terence Tay found Daniel Wong Mun Meng, now 44, guilty of counterfeiting the money and using the fake notes as genuine currency.
During his eight-day trial, Wong had said: "In late July 2015, I photocopied two $100 notes of the same serial number using my home printer and ordinary A4-size paper. It was an experiment to use (them) as a teaching tool, to excite and engage students during my maths class because I believed many of them had not seen a $100 note before."
Deputy Public Prosecutor Asoka Markandu said Wong had the two fake notes in his wallet when he went to Orchard Towers around 2am on Aug 3, 2015. Wong met Ms Nguyen Nhu Trang and they negotiated a price for her services.
They were later sitting in Wong's car when Wong held the two fake notes in his hand, DPP Asoka said.
The teacher showed the counterfeit money to Ms Trang before placing it in her handbag.
Wong's lawyer, Ms Melanie Ho, said her client had given Ms Trang the fake notes by mistake and it had been an "accidental use". She also said the notes were such bad specimens that they were not counterfeit.
I have seen the (fake) $100 notes and I find that they are indeed rather similar to genuine $100 notes. They are far from a pronounced failure and a recipient may make an easy mistake.
DISTRICT JUDGE TERENCE TAY
But yesterday, Judge Tay said Wong had earlier stated that he had taken out the fake money from a wad of cash in his wallet.
The judge said: "If the notes are indeed devoid of any similarity to genuine $100 notes, there is no convincing explanation as to why the accused would not have realised that out of the wad of notes, he had taken out specifically the $100 notes that were not genuine.
"I have seen the (fake) $100 notes and I find that they are indeed rather similar to genuine $100 notes. They are far from a pronounced failure and a recipient may make an easy mistake."
The guest registration records of a Fragrance Hotel branch in Balestier Road revealed that Wong and Ms Trang checked in at around 2.45am that day and checked out about an hour later. According to Wong, he returned home after dropping Ms Trang off near River Valley Road that morning.
He told Judge Tay that it was only then that he realised he had "mistakenly" given her the fake money.
The case came to light after Ms Trang unwittingly tried to use one of the fake notes at a supermarket and was caught by an alert cashier.
Police officers arrested Wong at Bukit Batok Secondary School on Aug 20, 2015. Responding to queries from The Straits Times, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said Wong has been suspended from duty since December 2015.
Its spokesman said: "MOE takes a serious view of educator misconduct and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against those who fail to adhere to our standards of conduct and discipline."
Wong is out on bail and will be sentenced at a later date.