Fakes and Frauds

Update 22 Jun 2017: Singapore prepares legislation to confront fake news by 2018
‘We will define what’s unlawful’

Singapore plans to introduce legislation to tackle fake news next year, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said on Monday

“We will in the second half of this year consult with the stakeholders, the media, the legal profession, of course the internet companies, we have to work with them, and see what the contours or shape of the legislation ought to be,” Shanmugam told a forum on how to deal with fake news.

“Hopefully, we will have it in place next year or so,” he said in his opening address to the “Keep it real: truth and trust in the media” forum organised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers and the local Straits Times newspaper.
The minister expressed concern about misinformation that exploits racial and religious divides in Singapore’s multi-racial society.

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Fraud alleged at Catholic centre

The Catholic Spirituality Centre (CSC) has made a police report against one of its senior members for alleged fraud.

The member, who works at the CSC, has been suspended.

A CSC spokesman said in a statement that the centre's spiritual director, listed on the Catholic Directory as Reverend Father Andrew Wong, made the police report last Friday because there was "reason to believe that a case of fraud has been committed".

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Cost of fraud rising in financial services

More large transactions and more funds washing about in the financial services sector may have contributed to a significant jump in the cost of fraud incidents in recent years, experts say.

The cost of these incidents has increased by a whopping 238 per cent to S$22 million this year from S$6.5 million in 2011, according to the KPMG Singapore Fraud 2014 Survey released yesterday.

The survey, done for the first time in conjunction with the Singapore Management University, found that 58 per cent of fraud incidents this year were perpetrated by employees, up from 47 per cent in 2011, and the average cost of such incidents per employee was S$457,000.

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Another shipping exec jailed for fraud in Singapore

Kwok Han Ying, a former crewing executive for Vermont UM Shipping, was today sentenced to 32 months in jail for multiple offences including criminal breach of trust, forgery and cheating.

Kwok misappropriated more than S$230,000 using a variety of methods from 2012 to 2013. Her schemes included telling her then employer that staff had clocked shifts they had not done, and taking out loans in employees’ names. After calculating the monthly salary due to workers and getting approval, she would cash a cheque and pocket the money.

Kwok’s deception was revealed when she called police one day to report that she had been robbed of S$34,000 meant for workers’ salaries. Under further questioning, she broke down and admitted the fraud. Kwok pleaded guilty to eight of 58 charges. She has paid S$1,850 in restitution to her former employer.

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Ex-tour guide faces 320 charges for faking accounts

FORMER China tour guide Yang Yin, who is embroiled in a legal tussle over the assets of a wealthy 87-year-old widow, was charged in court with another 320 charges for falsification of accounts.

The 40-year-old was represented by his lawyer Wee Pan Lee from Wee, Tay and Lim LLP.

Last Friday, Yang was accused of falsifying the accounts of his company Young Music and Dance Studio between 2009 and 2014.

related: Former tour guide Yang Yin out on S$150,000 bail

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Ex-tour guide in asset dispute charged with falsifying papers

The former China tour guide at the centre of an ongoing legal tussle over an elderly widow’s assets was slapped with 11 charges at the State Courts today (Oct 31) in a separate case against him.

Yang Yin, 40, is accused of falsification of papers between 2009 and 2014, as a director of Young Music & Dance Studio. He had created receipts reflecting payments, including those for “painting” and “piano classes”, when there were no such payments.

The payments range from S$1,000 to S$5,500. If convicted, the maximum penalty is 10 years’ jail and a fine.

related: Ex-tour guide charged with faking his firm's accounts

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150 foreigners jailed for false credentials since 2012
At the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) foreign manpower management division, suspected illegal workers are brought in for interviewing. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has prosecuted about 150 foreigners between 2012 and the first half of this year for providing false credentials, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has prosecuted about 150 foreigners between 2012 and the first half of this year for providing false credentials, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said on Tuesday.

All were jailed, had their work passes revoked and were barred from working in Singapore, said Mr Tan, in a written reply to Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam.

Mr Giam had asked what MOM plans to do to facilitate credential checks on foreigners coming here to work, in light of recent cases of foreigners who got their employment pass using false credentials.

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Four Indians jailed for fraud in Singapore

Four Indians were today sentenced to jail terms up to 48 months and fined after being convicted of fraudulent Goods and Services Tax refund claims, corruption and money laundering.

The four men - Sundar Panneer Selvam, Baskaran Uthirapathy, Pounraj Natarajan and Gobi Raman - had paid for receipts from bona-fide shoppers who had purchased jewellery and obtained electronic tourist refund scheme (eTRS) tickets from jewellery retailers, according to media report.

The men then presented the eTRS tickets and jewellery not purchased by them to Mohamed Yusof Bin Abdul Rahman, a customs officer on duty at the inspection counter in the airport.

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Singapore company fined for illegally collecting GST

A local switchboard manufacturer and its 61-year-old manager have been ordered to pay more than S$295,000 in penalties and fines for charging customers Goods and Services Tax (GST) despite not being a GST-registered company.

Double H Switchboard Market (Double H) was found to have unlawfully collected more than S$38,000 in GST from its customers between Dec 2004 and July 2006. A total of 198 invoices were wrongfully issued during this time.

The company’s co-owner and manager Mdm Fong Looi Hoei has pleaded guilty to 66 of the 198 charges, with the remaining 132 charges taken into consideration for sentencing. She will have to pay a tax penalty of S$91,598.70 for the offences.

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S$509,000: Bill for renovation contractor who failed to declare GST liability

A renovation contractor who failed to register his company for Goods and Services Tax (GST) liability for four years was ordered to pay a total of S$509,000.80 in back-dated taxes, penalties and fines.

Chong Wee Keng had failed to notify the Comptroller of GST of his liability to register his sole-proprietorship, D'Esprit Design and Renovations, for GST by Oct 30, 2006. As a result, he failed to account for S$458,637.09 of GST between Dec 1, 2006 and Dec 31, 2010, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) said on Friday (Oct 24).

On top of the unpaid GST, Chong also has to pay S$45,863.71 - a 10 per cent penalty on the amount of the tax due - as well as a court fine of S$4,500.

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Former Sembcorp Marine finance director jailed for accounts fraud

Sembcorp Marine’s former group finance director was today sentenced to 39 months in prison for falsifying the accounts of the group’s Jurong Shipyard.

Wee Sing Guan used the accounts to cover up some S$300m in trading losses that he had caused, which were incurred on positions held with several different banks. He hid the losses from the group over three years, starting from the first quarter of 2005 up to the third quarter of 2007. Wee’s offences were discovered in October 2007.

On discovery of the fraud, the total unrealised loss to 11 banks was about S$302.9m, though this was negotiated down to S$294.03m net, before taxes. Wee was sentenced after pleading guilty to nine of 57 charges.

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Former Sembcorp Marine finance chief gets prison term for fraud

Sembcorp Marine’s former finance director Wee Sing Guan was sentenced to 39 months in jail for falsifying accounts that led to a US$303 million (S$386 million) foreign-exchange loss, the Bloomberg news agency reported.

Singapore needs to send a “strong signal” that such conduct will not be tolerated, Deputy Chief District Judge Jennifer Marie said in handing down the sentence today (Oct 29). Wee abused the company’s trust, she said.

Wee, 66, pleaded guilty to nine charges of defrauding the company in the “unauthorised” foreign-exchange trades that Sembcorp Marine uncovered in October 2007. He was charged with a total of 57 counts.

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Four men fined, jailed for false GST tourist refund claims

They would pay for jewellery receipts from bona fide shoppers and obtain electronic tourist refund scheme (eTRS) tickets from the retailers. After which, they would present the ticket and jewellery — or gold-plated jewellery which did not match the goods description on the tickets — to a Customs officer at the airport, whom they had bribed to approve their false Goods and Services Tax (GST) refund claims.

The four Indian nationals would then head to the Central Refund Counter to receive their GST refunds in cash — spending a part of the money on duty-free items before departing to India.

Between September 2012 and January this year, the four men racked up fraudulent claims of about S$570,000 in GST refunds.

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Six men charged for corrupt, fraudulent GST tourist refund claims

Six men, including a former Singapore Customs officer, were charged on Thursday (Sep 25) for corrupt and fraudulent Goods and Services Tax (GST) tourist refund claims.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) had identified several suspicious GST refund claims using data analytics on its electronic tourist refund system (eTRS). The agency then worked with the Singapore Customs, Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) to investigate and, subsequently, arrested former Customs officer Mohamed Yusof Abdul Rahman and four Indian nationals on Jan 27 this year.

Lim Pheck Aun, a Singaporean sales executive who worked at Soon Huat Goldsmith, was also arrested by the CPIB on the same day, according to a press release issued on Thursday. The Singapore Police Force and Commercial Affairs Department were also alerted to the case due to suspected money laundering offences.

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GM jailed for conspiring to cheat firm of $4m

A general manager, who often gambled at a casino, came up with a ploy to get money from his company by scheming with third parties to submit fake invoices, to deceive it into paying for non-existent services.

Over around 1½ years, Teo Beng Wah abetted three others in a conspiracy to cheat Newtech Technology (South Asia) of $4 million.

The money was not returned.

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Almost 10,000 people caught lying on their CVs in first four months of the year
What to do if you've lied?

Padding your resume to get that dream job that pays well? But at what price?

As many as 10,000 employees here have been caught with lies on their CV by one screening company alone. And employers are not just screening new employees, but people up for promotion too. Some also pull resumes for audits.

So what do you do if you've lied?

Game's up for job seekers who lie

If job seekers think they can get away by lying about their background, they could be in for a big surprise. More companies are hiring screening experts to prevent fraud, according to employers and firms specialising in background checks.

One such firm, First Advantage, screened about 10,000 job candidates here in the first three months of this year. It found that 18.8 per cent of them had discrepancies in their job applications. Over the same period last year, 12.09 per cent of the 9,000 screened had issues with their applications.

Another background check specialist, Hireright, screened about 700,000 candidates last year, and found that more than half (57 per cent) had discrepancies in their resumes, a small rise from 2012.

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Fake degrees for sale
The online advertisements offering fake certificates from private education institutions (PEIs) in Singapore scream with promises

Promises such as the quality of the fake certs and how they can help buyers secure jobs here and abroad.

Touting their services as "reliable", "fast" and "safe", the sellers claimed to offer counterfeit certificates from up to 10 PEIs here.

The institutions included the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS), Curtin Singapore, Kaplan Singapore, Informatics and the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM).

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Number of academic fraud cases on the rise
Anoop Shankar, a former National University of Singapore don, is accused of some of the most egregious acts of academic misconduct on record, including making up large chunks of his resume and falsifying data in his papers. - PHOTO: IAN ROCKETT

The story of Mr Anoop Shankar, a former National University of Singapore don accused of fraud, rocked academic circles in Singapore and the United States this month.

The 39-year-old stands accused of some of the most egregious acts of academic misconduct on record, including making up large chunks of his resume and falsifying data in his papers.

But while extreme, Mr Shankar is far from being the only academic to have landed in trouble because of academic misconduct.

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National University of Singapore relooks recruitment process after academic fraud case
Students at the National University of Singapore (NUS) University Town (UTown). -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Reports that its former faculty member Anoop Shankar had faked his credentials have prompted the National University of Singapore to relook its recruitment process.

"The university is reviewing its internal recruitment processes in the light of the recent media reports on this case," an NUS spokesman told The Sunday Times.

The former assistant professor at NUS' Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (2005-2008) wrote several papers on topics like diabetes, and was part of a research programme looking into eye diseases in Singapore.

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25 foreigners charged for using forged academic certs
Ministry of Manpower cracks down on fraudulent work pass applications; 20 sentenced to 4 weeks’ jail, five fined S$5,000

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said today (July 17) that it has charged 25 foreigners for submitting forged academic certificates to obtain work passes.

The 25 were charged yesterday in the largest number of individuals brought to court so far this year for this offence.

The offenders had furnished false information to the Controller of Work Passes between May and August last year in submitting fake university degree certificates in their applications for work passes.

related: MOM Prosecutes 25 Foreign Employees for Submitting Forged Academic Certificates

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25 Foreign Talents from Myanmar, India and the Philippines pleaded guilty to using fake degrees to obtain work passes in Singapore and were sentenced to 4 to 12 weeks jail each.

The fake degrees were submitted as part of their applications to obtain work passes for Singapore and they went undetected until just recently.

The MOM issued 20 S Passes and 5 EPs to the 25 FTs with fake degrees between November 2012 and June 2013. The MOM later discovered that the degrees were fake after doing some additional checks with the foreign institutions that the degrees were supposedly from.

What is puzzling is why weren't these checks done before the workers were issued work passes? They are clearly not qualified for the work that they were doing and yet the MOM allowed them to come and work in Singapore.

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18 Chinese nationals jailed over fake degrees

For their involvement in a fake degree scam, at least 18 foreign workers from China were sentenced earlier this week to jail in Singapore for four weeks each.

The workers had been found by a local court to have provided forged certificates to obtain work passes to work for T Y Enterprise and Sun Blues Cleaning Maintenance.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that while another 10 workers from China will be charged with similar offences on Thursday, another nine are being repatriated after being served with warning letters “for providing false information to MOM’s employment inspectors”.

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Yang alleged to have bought fake degree with S$4,000

According to a Chinese new media report yesterday (29 Sep), a friend of 87-year-old widow Chung Khin Chun told the media that he has the evidence to prove that PRC tour guide Yang Yin obtained money from Mdm Chung to procure a fake degree in China

Mdm Chung’s friend said that he has already turned over the evidence to Mdm Chung’s niece, Ms Hedy Mok. He said that she is discussing with her lawyer on their next move.

Mdm Chung’s friend said that at the time, Yang asked Mdm Chung to wire S$4,000 to him so that he can procure a fake degree in China. It is believed that the degree may have been used to help Yang obtain an Employment Pass to work in Singapore in 2009 and later apply for his PR.

The friend produced an acceptance letter supposedly from the “University of Financial and Trade Beijing China” (北京财经贸易学院) to show that Yang was accepted by the university to study for a bachelor’s degree in 2006:

related: PRC Yang ‘graduated’ from unknown university in 2009

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More foreigners caught with fake certificates

INDIAN national Praveen Kumar Bollu was hired by dance studio Prabhudeva Dance Academy here as a dance instructor and choreographer in July last year.

Armed with an Indian university degree, he obtained an Employment Pass - a permit for foreign professionals working in managerial, executive or specialised jobs.
His wages were considerable, at $4,700 a month. But the 27-year-old was living a lie. He had faked his university degree.

He was among a record number of 53 foreigners caught for forging educational qualifications this year, more than the 43 nabbed during the whole of last year.

related: MOM Prosecutes 25 Foreigners for Submitting Forged Academic Certificates

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MOM tightens academic cert rule

Employers applying for work passes for foreigners using tertiary qualifications from China will soon have to show proof that the certificates are real. This is the latest move to crack down on the use of false educational certificates, after the law was changed last year to make it a standalone offence.

Announcing this on its website, Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that from Feb 4 this year, a clear copy of a "verification proof" must be provided when applying for or renewing passes of workers with a diploma or higher qualifications from China. This applies to workers brought in on an Employment Pass, S Pass, or Training Employment Pass, but applications for work permits, which are for less-skilled workers, are not affected. Last year, 52 foreigners were convicted of false declaration of academic qualifications, down from 110 in 2011.

Speaking on this, MOM said it has taken the latest step "to further ensure the authenticity of the qualifications presented by a potential foreign employee at the point of application". This is "an extension of verification checks by employers", added the MOM, because bosses have already been checking the certificates of their skilled workers. The MOM also said that it will also explore identifying similar verification channels for qualifications from other countries.

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More offenders caught

Even so, foreigners caught using fake degrees in Singapore are on the rise.

In 2008, a China national working in Singapore as an engineer was fined $13,000 for using a fake degree, The Straits Times reported. The year before, an Indian national was fined $6,000 and jailed two weeks for using a passport bearing his cousin's name, and for buying a fake botany degree.

More than 400 foreigners were caught in 2007 for lying to the Manpower Ministry (MOM) in their work pass applications, a four-fold increase from the 97 cases in 2005. MOM did not give a breakdown, but it was reported that most are believed to have used fake or forged qualifications to apply for employment passes and S-passes.

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3 Credential cheats caught by screening firm

A Singaporean man was employed as an assistant vice-president in a bank, based on the fact that he had a master's degree. But when he tried to apply for another job in a different firm, checks revealed that he did not even complete his first degree in electrical engineering. He enrolled in a computer science master's programme by using a fake degree certificate.

Last year, a candidate applied for a senior role at a Singapore-based mulitnational corporation (MNC). Claiming to have graduated with a economics degree from a top university in Japan in 1988, he claimed to have held senior roles in a few companies. But he never completed his university degree and faked job titles and employment details throughout his 20-year career.

A Singapore-based candidate claimed to have graduated from a prestigious university in India. He said he was the manager of database operations for an MNC in Japan and had also worked for an MNC in Singapore, earning $10,000 a month. But checks showed that both his degree and employment dates were false.

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Gutter oil' king on fraud raps

Tycoon Wei Ying-chung was slapped with nearly 140 fraud-linked charges yesterday linked to Taiwan's "gutter oil" food safety scare, which has seen fallout for Hong Kong and other places.

One of Taiwan's richest men, Wei faces a 30-year jail term if convicted.

Prosecutors in Changhua indicted him on 60 counts of fraud and 79 of aggravated fraud plus violating food safety laws for selling tainted cooking oil.

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Inflated and Fraudulent Motor Insurance Claims

A group of insurance professionals is forming a working group to find ways to combat fraud, especially exaggerated and inflated motor claims.

The group, which will be formed in the coming months, will be made up of representatives from the General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) and its members, and aims to tackle the problem in a structured and systematic way.

GIA president Derek Teo said in an interview with The Straits Times that although the industry has made progress in fighting certain aspects of insurance fraud, there are still loopholes to be closed.

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Bangladeshi jailed 5 months for threat to send ex-lover's sex videos to family and friends

A Bangladeshi national filmed himself having sex with a married Singaporean woman, then threatened to send the explicit video clip to her friends and family.

On Tuesday (May 24), the 42-year-old man was sentenced to five months' jail after admitting to threatening the woman, aged 38, between March 27 and April 4 this year. He was initially scheduled to go for trial but changed his mind and pleaded guilty on Monday (May 23). Neither he nor the complainant can be named due to a gag order.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ryan David Lim said the pair were in an intermittent relationship from around 2007 to 2013. They broke up in 2014 and he returned to Bangladesh.

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