Woman who committed series of cheating offences against employers gets 45 months' jail

SINGAPORE - For over 2½ years, a woman caused losses of $65,200 at places she had worked at by charging goods and services she purchased to her employers.

For that, the 40-year-old was sentenced to 45 months' jail on Tuesday (Oct 10), after pleading guilty to 10 charges, with 20 other charges considered during her sentencing. Her sentence was backdated to June 13, 2017.

Rosalina Ali was working as a personal assistant to an associate professor at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and secretary to NTU's Institute of Sports Research (ISR) in December 2014 when she used her official NTU e-mail account to make a hotel booking at the Singapore Resort and Spa Sentosa between Dec 13 and 17 the same year.

She dishonestly induced the hotel into believing that NTU had asked for such services. In reality, she took her family there for a staycation which cost $6,189.

Soon after that - on Dec 22 - she cheated Dynasty Travel into believing that NTU required five air tickets, accommodation and rail tickets for a school trip to Germany, which she then used to take her family for a holiday. NTU was billed $20,944.

On March 11, 2015, she applied for six mobile phone contracts and ordered six iPhone 6 phones amounting to $5,688, all billed to NTU.

She then sold the SIM cards and phones to various unknown persons.

On March 30 that year, she used her official e-mail account and booked air tickets and accommodation for two to London. She and her daughter stayed at the Millennium Hotel London, Knightsbridge, on that trip. The total cost was $6,654.

A police report was made against her for the unauthorised invoices billed to ISR on May 7, 2015.

Between February and December 2016, she was working as an office administrator at pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim when she used its virtual credit card and purchasing card to either make or attempt to make online purchases of mobile phones and six flight tickets. For this, she had illegally accessed the company's Mastercard payment network.

Some of these purchases were processed while some were stopped in time when the company was duly prompted by automatic SMS alerts or verification phone calls from the bank, said Deputy Public Prosecutor V. Jesudevan.

While she was working at GlaxoSmithKline as a team administrator in May 2017, she stole a software and application manager's American Express (Amex) corporate credit card from her bag when the 42-year-old was away from her workstation attending a meeting.

Rosalina used the stolen credit card to buy three Samsung S8 plus mobile phones amounting to $3,894 at a mobile phone shop at Westgate. She threw away the Amex card at a public bin, and subsequently sold the phone sets for $800 each.

Rosalina had previous convictions for theft, cheating, cheating by personation, criminal breach of trust and forgery, and was last jailed 27 months in October 2012.

Pleading for leniency, she said in mitigation that she was supporting three households, including her in-laws and four children, single-handedly. She could not turn to social service for help because of her $3,600 monthly salary.

District Judge Luke Tan said she started committing a "whole string of offences" again after her release from prison.

Noting that she was paying for luxury hotels and overseas travel, the judge reminded her that it was her victims who had to pick up her tab. No restitution had been made despite the amount of losses caused, he said.

Judge Tan agreed with the prosecutor's submission that a substantial sentence must be handed out. He said that DPP Jesudevan had tendered a very thorough set of submissions and the sentence he had sought was "very fair".

For each charge of cheating, Rosalina could have been jailed for up to 10 years and was also liable to a fine. For computer misuse, she could have been fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed for up to two years per charge.