Asia

Man gets six months' jail for cheating MSF of Covid-19 relief funds

SINGAPORE – A man who lied about his employment status to dupe the authorities into disbursing Covid-19 relief funds to him has been sentenced to six months’ jail.

Muhammad Faizal Khaled, 37, had tried a second time after succeeding in cheating the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) into giving him $500 the first time.

He pleaded guilty in court to one count of cheating and another count of attempted cheating.

Another two counts of forgery were taken into consideration during sentencing.

In sentencing him on Monday (March 22), District Judge Jasvender Kaur said that a strong signal was needed to deter others who want to take advantage of Covid-19 relief schemes.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lim said Faizal had voluntarily resigned from his job as an administrative executive in September 2019.

He was unemployed at the time of his offences.

In April last year, he accessed the Temporary Relief Fund application and lied that he had lost his job due to the pandemic.

The fund is a financial support scheme launched by the Government to help those whose jobs have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Faizal forged a retrenchment letter by copying the letterhead of his previous company and the digital signatures of its directors.

His application was accepted and $500 was disbursed to him.

In May last year, he applied for the Covid-19 Support Grant, this time lying that he had been placed on involuntary no-pay leave of more than three months.

DPP Lim said Faizal had forged a payslip from his previous company and added the company stamp to it.

But his scheme was exposed when the director of his previous company made a police report stating that Faizal had misused the company’s name and digital signatures in his applications for government grants.

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MSF officers processing his Covid-19 Support Grant form also found that the documents he submitted were fraudulent and rejected his application.

The court heard that had the application gone through, MSF would have paid out $2,400 to him.

In October last year, Faizal refunded the $500 from the Temporary Relief Fund.

For each count of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

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