SINGAPORE – A 50-year-old woman was sentenced to four months’ jail for helping her supervisor at a childcare centre cheat the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) of over $29,000 in cash.
Daljit Kaur Yinder Singh pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Oct 14) to falsely submitting forms and other documents to defraud the MSF of $29,410.
By falsifying documents, she helped mislead the ministry into continually disbursing subsidies meant for 20 children under the Student Care Fee Assistance (SCFA) scheme, when the children were no longer attending the childcare centre she worked at.
The SCFA scheme provides eligible families with subsidies for their children’s student care fees. The subsidies are paid directly to the student care centre’s bank account every month. The amount disbursed can range from $29 to $285 for each child per month.
Kaur’s deception of the MSF led to monies being continually disbursed to Welcare Student Care Centre, where she was employed as a centre supervisor from 2002 to June 2015.
According to court documents, Kaur helped obtain $15,780 in cheated monies between January and December 2014 by falsifying the forms of eight children. She then helped to cheat the MSF of another $13,630 between January and May 2015 by tampering with the records of 12 children.
The court heard that Kaur was notified that the children were no longer attending the centre and would have to be withdrawn from the SCFA scheme.
According to proper procedures, Kaur would have to submit the children’s withdrawal forms to MSF, after which the ministry would stop the disbursements immediately.
However, she was instructed by centre owner and supervisor Gerard Michael, 51, to not submit the withdrawal forms to the MSF.
Kaur also falsified a variety of details in the centre’s system on Michael’s behalf – including temperature logs, attendance sheets, and student consent forms – to create the impression that the children had an attendance rate of over 50 per cent at the centre.
“This was done in order to meet requirements under the SCFA scheme, and for Welcare Student Care Centre to continue to receive the SCFA subsidies for these children,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Yonghui.
Investigations have since revealed that Welcare Student Care Centre had allegedly made wrongful SCFA claims totalling $48,280 between 2014 and 2016. The MSF filed a police report on Feb 12, 2016.
Kaur’s conspiracy with Michael resulted in the MSF losing $29,410. The centre has since paid back $28,762 to MSF, and $19,518 remains outstanding.
Separately, Kaur was also taken to task for a charge of lying to a public servant in 2015 about the employment status of Michael’s mother, Joseph Lily, in order to fraudulently obtain ComCare financial assistance for half a year.
Defence lawyer S.S. Dhillon said in his mitigation plea that Kaur was not the mastermind of the crime, and had followed Michael’s instructions, as she was in love with him.
“She was a mere pawn used by Michael and the offences were committed due to her financial situation, and because she was blinded by love,” Mr Dhillon said.
Kaur began serving her prison term on Wednesday. Michael has also been charged as the mastermind of the cheating offences, and has claimed trial.
His case will be handled separately, and Kaur has indicated her intention to act as a willing prosecution witness in Michael’s case.
Anyone convicted of cheating offences can be jailed for 10 years or fined.
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