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Former cafe waiter jailed for illegally redeeming Temasek Foundation face masks using other people's NRIC numbers

SINGAPORE — Wanting to secure more reusable face masks for himself that were issued by Temasek Foundation last year, a man hatched a scheme to use the identity card numbers of 14 Singaporeans that he had obtained in the course of his work.

Former cafe waiter jailed for illegally redeeming Temasek Foundation face masks using other people's NRIC numbers
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SINGAPORE — Wanting to secure more reusable face masks for himself that were issued by Temasek Foundation last year, a man hatched a scheme to use the identity card numbers of 14 Singaporeans that he had obtained in the course of his work.

On Tuesday (Feb 22), Ng Wee Siang, 35, pleaded guilty to a single charge of cheating and dishonestly inducing a delivery of property and was jailed for eight weeks.

The court heard that Ng’s offences took place between March 2 and 4 last year.

In the month before that, Temasek Foundation, the non-profit philanthropic arm of state investment firm Temasek Holdings, announced that it would be beginning its fourth nationwide reusable mask distribution initiative to help the community cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Each of the face mask packs, which could only be redeemed once through a vending machine by keying in an individual’s National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) number, was worth S$10.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Louis Ngia said that sometime before March 2 last year, Ng had already collected a face mask with his own NRIC but “wanted more”.

He then decided to use the NRIC numbers of several individuals that he already had.

At the time of the offences, Ng was working as a waiter at the Central Perk Cafe near Havelock Road, and had obtained the NRIC details of 24 people through various means.

As a waiter, he was able to take a photograph of the identity card belonging to the cafe’s former manager, which he kept on his phone.

Sometime before March last year, he also received a photo of a name list of employees, which was sent to him in a text message on WhatsApp.

The list contained the names and NRIC numbers of 17 Singapore citizens, DPP Ngia said. It is not clear if the employees were from the cafe, but the prosecutor said that Ng had no relation to them. 

The list was sent to Ng mistakenly, but he took a screenshot of the information before deleting the message.

Around the same period, Ng also received a Central Provident Fund printout provided by his previous employer, which listed the names and NRIC numbers of six employees other than himself.

DPP Ngia said that Ng's previous employer, an unnamed company, had provided this to each of the employees for their own records.

With all the information in hand, Ng illegally redeemed a total of S$140 worth of face masks for himself on 14 occasions at Temasek Foundation’s vending machines found at three locations: Chin Swee Road, Anchorvale Road and Fernvale Link.

Ng’s actions were uncovered when the former cafe manager tried to redeem a face mask for himself, only to discover that it had already been collected.

This prompted the man to file a police report.

When Ng was arrested, he surrendered 20 mask packs to the police, which he admitted were redeemed using the NRIC of others without their authorisation.

For his offences, he could have been jailed up to 10 years and fined.

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crime court Temasek Foundation face masks cheating Covid-19

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