Singapore had rolled out one of the most impressive COVID-19 financial assistance programs for its citizens in the world, and you can count on the unscrupulous to take advantage of such a generous payout.

According to a report by The Straits Times, two men were charged with forging letters to avail of COVID-19 payouts. One man was also accused of lying that he was fired to qualify for the cash grants.

Who is Chow Jia Chuan?

The Straits Times reported that 29-year-old Chow Jia Chuan was charged with one count of cheating, four counts of attempted cheating, and one count of forgery on Wednesday, July 1. He allegedly submitted a Temporary Relief Fund application form on April 20 that he lost his job due to COVID-19. Prosecutors said that this was false.

For his efforts, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) remitted $500 to him.

He tried again the following month, and his attempt consituted another charge. He tried to get the MSF to give him a payout of $800 for three months but was unsuccesful.

But he tried again one week after, and told an MSF employee named Samantha Choy that he had recently lost his job. This was another lie to get the $800-a-month payout.

Chow attempted this same scheme two more times, with the same MSF officer. He will return to trial on July 29.

Who is Edward Goh?

The same report mentioned 43-year-old Edward Go, who forged a retrenchment letter from Lim Gim Tee of Scotts Hwa Heng Beef Noodles on May 5 to avail of COVID-19 cash grants.

Using the name of another person Tan Meng Lan, he used the letter to cheat MSF. This other person allegedly exists and was known to Goh.

He also fabricated another fraudulent document–a retrenchment memorandum from Ee Hui Food Catering. He used this letter on May 14 for the same purpose of trying to get a payout from MSF.

The report mentioned that he will plead guilty on July 29 when he returns to court.

300 people returned COVID-19 payouts months ago

After a man was identified in early April as having “cheated” the system for receiving COVID-19 payouts, citizens who availed of the fund using false claims had come forward to return the money.

According to a report from The Straits Times, over 500 people sought to return their successfully-availed COVID-19 payouts. When the facility to process COVID-19 support grants opened, 300,000 individuals filed, but after a “cheater” was outed because of his bragging on a popular online forum, people came forward to ask to return the funds remitted to them.

Authorities, however, said that not everyone who wanted to return their cash assistance cheated the system. Some of them eventually found new jobs or their employer was able to retain them in some cases.

The charges filed against Goh and Chow followed after statements in April regarding the “small number” of fraudulent claims came from Minister K Shanmugam.

“Though the number of people who have tried to abuse the Temporary Relief Fund remains small, the authorities will ‘come down quite hard’ on those who do,” Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam told reporters.

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