10 weeks' jail for man who forged retrenchment letter to dupe MSF into disbursing Covid-19 Support Grant

Benny Ong Hong Beng pleaded guilty on July 1
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - A man who resigned from his job last July forged a letter claiming that he had been retrenched to dupe the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) into disbursing the Covid-19 Support Grant.

Benny Ong Hong Beng was unsuccessful as the ministry was able to detect that the letter was a forgery. MSF did not disburse the pay-out, which would have seen him receive a total of $2,400 over three months.

The 44-year-old, who used to work for a company called Davis Guitar, pleaded guilty on Thursday (July 1) to committing forgery for the purpose of cheating and was sentenced to 10 weeks' jail.

The financial support scheme was announced by the Government in March last year as part of the Resilience Budget to deal with the economic and social impact of Covid-19.

It was administered by the MSF and targeted employees affected by the economic impact of Covid-19.

An applicant must have experienced, among other things, involuntary unemployment due to retrenchment or contract termination after Jan 23 last year.

They must also submit documents including a retrenchment letter.

On July 6 last year, Ong tendered his resignation at Davis Guitar, which sells musical instruments, as he was dissatisfied with his job.

He then became aware of the Covid-19 Support Grant (CSG), the court heard.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lim said: "He knew that he did not meet the eligibility criteria to apply for the CSG as he had neither been retrenched nor lost personal income due to Covid-19 but had voluntarily resigned for reasons unrelated to Covid-19.


"He also knew that relevant documents, such as retrenchment letters, had to be attached to a CSG application in order to prove an involuntary loss of employment due to Covid-19."

Ong then decided to forge a retrenchment letter with a false Davis Guitar letterhead.

He also inserted a former colleague's name at the bottom so that it would appear that she had written it.

On July 16 last year, Ong went to the Bukit Panjang Social Service Office to apply for the CSG in person and showed an MSF officer the forged letter.

The officer took a picture of the document and attached it to Ong's application.

The ministry later realised that the letter had been forged. It alerted Davis Guitar and Ong's former colleague lodged a police report on July 27 last year.

For committing forgery for the purpose of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

This article was first published in The Straits TimesPermission required for reproduction.

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