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Dentist fined S$45,000 for cheating CPF Board through false Medisave claims worth S$11,000

SINGAPORE — Not realising that the Central Provident Board (CPF) had raised MediSave claim limits the year before, dentist Andy Joshua Warren began splitting his patients' receipts so that they could pay for the entire cost of their dental implant procedures from their MediSave accounts.

Dentist fined S$45,000 for cheating CPF Board through false Medisave claims worth S$11,000

Andy Joshua Warren leaving the State Courts on April 19, 2022. He was fined S$45,000 after pleading guilty to nine counts of cheating.

  • Andy Joshua Warren, previously known as Ng Yuming, pleaded guilty to submitting nine false MediSave claims in 2015
  • His lawyer said he was following his dental supervisor's instructions
  • He did not know that the claim limit had been raised, which meant that he did not need to submit the false claims
  • He had since started his own dental practice

SINGAPORE — Not realising that the Central Provident Board (CPF) had raised MediSave claim limits the year before, dentist Andy Joshua Warren began splitting his patients' receipts so that they could pay for the entire cost of their dental implant procedures from their MediSave accounts.

In 2015, he authorised the submission of nine false claims for three patients to circumvent what he mistook as the claim limits, eventually cheating the CPF Board into disbursing S$11,250 in total.

Had he not done so, his patients would still be able to cover the entire cost of their procedures through MediSave since the limits were increased in 2014.

For his actions, the 36-year-old was fined S$45,000 after pleading guilty to nine counts of cheating on Tuesday (April 19).

Another 15 charges, in relation to cheating polyclinics into disbursing subsidies under the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas), were taken into consideration for sentencing.

The court heard that Warren, who changed his name from Ng Yuming, primarily worked at Phoenix Dental Surgery chain’s Ang Mo Kio clinic.

He was a trainee dentist there during his offences from June and September 2015, after graduating from the University of Melbourne, Australia in 2013.

He now runs his own practice, AJ Warren Dental Clinic, along Pasir Panjang Road.

MediSave, the national medical-savings scheme, can be used by account holders to pay for certain medical expenses or those of immediate family members.

HOW IT WORKED

From Jan 1, 2014 onwards, the maximum claim amount for day surgeries for dental implant procedures was increased to a maximum of S$7,550 for each surgery. It was previously up to S$950, S$1,850 or S$2,600 depending on the complexity of the procedure.

Warren was aware of the pre-2014 claim limit, so he adopted the practice of splitting the MediSave claims into multiple ones for several day surgeries. He had really performed a smaller number of surgeries.

This enabled him to circumvent the limit, even though there was no need for him to do so, the court heard.

He would first explain to his patients how much their procedure would cost and then asked them whether they had enough balance in their MediSave account to cover the entire cost.

After the patient agreed to the procedure and the cost, they had to sign MediSave authorisation forms that corresponded to the number of claims required to cover the cost.

Warren would then sign the same number of letters of certification, which are meant for medical practitioners to certify that the procedure was performed and the fees to be charged were payable.

On April 22, 2016, the Ministry of Health made a police report alleging that Warren had cheated polyclinics into disbursing subsidies under Chas.

When the police began investigations, they also discovered the MediSave fraud he had committed.

FOLLOWED BOSS' INSTRUCTIONS

Warren’s supervisor from Phoenix Dental Surgery, Teo Eu Gene, 38, was jailed for 46 weeks in 2020 for cheating Chas. He had submitted false Chas claims to deceive two polyclinic groups into believing that he had performed dental procedures when he had not.

Warren’s lawyer, Mr Riko Isaac, argued that his client was merely following Teo’s instructions to comply with Phoenix Dental’s administrative processes.

In his mitigation plea, Mr Isaac said that his client had not benefitted unfairly from the scheme, and there was no financial harm caused to any of the victims.

“These proceedings have been a wake-up call for him and he is now resolved to get his life back on track,” the defence counsel said.

Warren had to set up his own dental practice because the criminal probe led to him facing difficulties in finding a job, and the Ministry of Health suspended his access to the MediSave claims process in December 2019 shortly after he did so. This had a significant impact on his business, Mr Isaac added.

In a separate and similar case, dentist Daniel Liew from the Smile Division Dental Group was jailed two years in 2019 for claiming S$388,700 from six patients’ MediSave accounts by inflating the number of day surgeries he performed on them.

The prosecution for the present case, led by Deputy Public Prosecutors Nicholas Lim and Sarah Thaker, referred to Liew’s case when arguing that Warren should be fined.

Liew was convicted of a larger number of offences committed over a longer period, and he had been motivated by personal financial gain because he worked on a commission basis, the prosecutors said.

On the other hand, there was nothing to suggest that Warren personally gained from his offences since he received a fixed salary.

However, the prosecution said that Warren had abused his position as an accredited medical practitioner and committed a “serious case of fraud against a vital public institution”.

For each cheating charge, he could have been jailed for up to three years or fined, or punished with both.

Related topics

court crime MediSave dentist fraud cheating cpf

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