Woman barred from raising funds for charity

She allegedly cheated mums of monies raised through crowdfunding site for their sick kids

The charities watchdog has barred a woman from raising funds for charity after she allegedly cheated distressed mothers of monies raised through a crowdfunding site for their children suffering from various illnesses.

Ashlee Chua Jermaine, 32, is "not a fit and proper person" to conduct fund-raising appeals, the Commissioner of Charities said in a statement yesterday.

While the Commissioner has previously barred individuals from fund-raising, this is the first case involving donations raised through crowdfunding, its spokesman told The Straits Times.

Chua, who was also known as "Ian Ian" and "Ashley Lee", is linked to a Facebook group known as "Ian Free Milk Blessing". The group appeared to have raised funds on Give.asia, purportedly to give free formula milk to children from poor families.

The donations collected were allegedly transferred to her but when probed by the Commissioner earlier this year, Chua failed to provide the required information or any accountability on how the funds raised were used.

A spokesman for the Commissioner said it is an offence to not provide information relating to the fund-raiser when asked.

Chua, an undischarged bankrupt, is already facing a criminal case.

She was charged in court on June 23 with cheating, for allegedly inducing housewife Duong Thi Hai Nhi, a Vietnamese who lives in Singapore, into believing that she would pay the medical bills for Madam Hai Nhi's daughter. As a result, the 23-year-old Vietnamese transferred $2,163 to Chua's bank account.

Madam Hai Nhi's baby daughter was born with Apert syndrome - a genetic disorder where the skull does not grow normally and the fingers are fused together - and she needed about $55,000 for surgery. Madam Hai Nhi started a fund-raising campaign in May last year and Chua got in touch with her, said the Vietnamese woman earlier this year.

By July last year, Madam Hai Nhi had raised about $54,000 in donations on Give.asia and she allegedly transferred monies to Chua's account to pay the hospital bills.

Chua is also alleged to have cheated at least two other people who had raised funds on the same crowdfunding site, the Commissioner said. ST understands this involves the Facebook group, but the Commissioner's spokesman would not give more details as police investigations are ongoing.

Chua has been in remand since her court appearance. If convicted, she can be jailed for up to 10 years or fined.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2018, with the headline 'Woman barred from raising funds for charity'. Print Edition | Subscribe