Woman who stole $10,800 worth of Budget 2020 grocery vouchers sentenced to 48 weeks' jail

SINGAPORE – A woman who stole $10,800 worth of Budget 2020 grocery vouchers with her husband was on Thursday (April 29) sentenced to 48 weeks’ jail.

Tanty Yohaida Samad, who had pleaded guilty to 15 counts of theft involving $2,250, had another 57 charges involving the remaining sum considered during sentencing.

The 45-year-old, who was released from prison in 2019 for offences not revealed in court documents, had targeted her neighbours when she was under a remission order.

She now has to spend an additional 121 days behind bars as she had failed to keep herself out of trouble between June 7, 2019 and Feb 2 this year.

The case involving her 42-year-old husband – Zulkeflei Mohamed Yatim – is still pending.

The Budget 2020 grocery voucher scheme was rolled last year out to help less well-off Singaporeans with their household expenses amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Phoebe Tan said that as a result of the offences, the 72 vulnerable victims, which included senior citizens, were deprived of the vouchers. The couple has made no restitution.

The court heard that they used the vouchers to obtain items including multiple mobile phones which they then sold for cash.

Tanty was the mastermind and she had discussed her plans with her husband who agreed to take part in the offences.

On multiple occasions last October, the Singaporean couple, who lived in Marsiling, went to letterboxes in the wee hours and looked for those with unsecured flaps.

They then used a clothes hanger to fish out envelopes containing Budget 2020 grocery vouchers. Each envelope contained 15 $10 vouchers, the court heard.

DPP Tan said that on other occasions, Zulkeflei used a pair of pliers to break open letterboxes to obtain the vouchers.

Their offences came to light when police received reports from at least 19 people about the missing vouchers.

On Thursday, DPP Tan told the court that the couple’s offences were difficult to detect as no names were stated on the vouchers. They were instead marked with serial numbers.

She added: “To trace the accused, the police had to conduct extensive screenings to locate where the vouchers had been used and review numerous CCTV (closed-circuit television) footage to establish who had used them.”

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

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