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Man under investigation for possible abuse of Covid-19 Temporary Relief Fund

SINGAPORE — A 41-year-old man is under investigation for possible abuse of the Covid-19 Temporary Relief Fund (TRF), said the police and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) in a joint news release on Sunday (April 12).

Man under investigation for possible abuse of Covid-19 Temporary Relief Fund

An internet user posted online claiming that he was able to obtain TRF aid without any documents, and that the system was "so simple to cheat".

SINGAPORE — A 41-year-old man is under investigation for possible abuse of the Covid-19 Temporary Relief Fund (TRF), said the police and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) in a joint news release on Sunday (April 12).

The police and MSF were first alerted to the case of an internet user who posted online claiming that he was able to obtain TRF aid without any documents, and that the system was "so simple to cheat".

The fund provides a one-off S$500 financial aid for lower- to middle-income Singaporeans and permanent residents facing difficulties during the Covid-19 crisis due to job or income loss.

In a Facebook post earlier on Tuesday, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said the Government has made the TRF "more flexible and responsive" by accepting a wide variety of supporting documents, while those with no documents can make a legal declaration on their form, which will be accepted.

However, Mr Lee added that he is aware of a "very small number of people" who are taking advantage of the TRF or "encouraging others who do not need help to try to 'cheat' the system".

Mr Lee included a screenshot of a post, where a user had written: "I can't believe this!! No document also can get the $500!! So simple to cheat", together with an image of a DBS transaction alert informing the user that S$500 had been credited into his or her bank account.

The police subsequently identified the 41-year-old Singaporean man behind the post. Investigations are ongoing.

In addition, the police cautioned against advertisements on social media claiming to sell forged payslips in order to make fraudulent TRF claims, and warned that such advertisements could be scams. MSF is also conducting checks on all applications to detect forged payslips.

Abusing the TRF may constitute an offence of cheating, which carries up to 10 years in jail and a fine.

“MSF and the Police treat such cases seriously and will not hesitate to take action against anyone who abuses and/or facilitates the abuse of the TRF,” the statement added.

As of Tuesday, more than 100,000 Singaporeans have applied for the TRF.

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Temporary Relief Fund coronavirus Covid-19 cheating

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