Clinic assistant and property agent used patient, client details to redeem masks

·Senior Reporter
·4-min read
Singapore's State Courts seen on 21 April 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
Singapore's State Courts seen on 21 April 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — A clinic assistant accessed her clinic's database to obtain confidential details of elderly persons she thought had died, and helpers whom she thought had left the country, in order to obtain masks distributed by Temasek Foundation via vending machines.

Ang Poh Lay, 47, successfully redeemed 26 face masks belonging to patients whose information she had taken from Tan & Yik Clinic & Surgery’s database.

Separately, PropNex property agent David Chin Sing Chuin, 59, used 11 clients’ personal information to redeem their masks. He wanted them for his personal use as he felt that they were comfortable.

On Monday (27 September), for their respective offences, Ang was jailed for nine weeks while Chin was jailed one week.

Ang, a Singaporean who is a permanent resident in Malaysian, pleaded guilty to one count each of cheating via retaining the personal information of eight persons without their consent, and of cheating Temasek Foundation by dishonestly inducing the company to deliver eight Livinguard face mask packs with $80.

Chin pleaded guilty to two charges of cheating Temasek Foundation. 

In February this year, Temasek Foundation announced the beginning of their fourth nationwide distribution of mask packs via vending machines they owned and operated. The masks were produced by the Swiss hygiene company Livinguard and worth $10 each.

Under the scheme, each resident in Singapore was entitled to one mask pack, consisting of one Livinguard mask, which they could redeem from the vending machines islandwide by keying in their NRIC numbers.  

Ang Poh Lay's offences

Ang was a clinic assistant with Tan & Yik Clinic & Surgery when she offended. After redeeming her own Livinguard mask pack, she felt that the quality of the mask was higher than those previously provided by Temasek Foundation.

She also knew that she could redeem more mask packs by using other people’s NRIC numbers, as she had used her late mother’s details to redeem an extra pack for herself.

Between 1 and 7 March this year, Ang accessed the clinic’s patient records in search of patients' personal information and copied their details onto a piece of paper.

On 13 March, a 68-year-old Singaporean woman filed a police report after she could not redeem her mask. She was told that someone had collected her mask on 7 March at a location in Hougang. The victim received a screenshot from a Temasek Foundation staff member telling her who had redeemed her mask, and the victim confirmed she did not recognise the person.

Ang admitted to unlawfully redeeming 26 face mask packs. A search of her residence produced 20 face mask packs, worth $200 in total, which were seized. Ang admitted that she had used the other six packs.

In mitigation, Ang pleaded for leniency through a Mandarin interpreter, saying that she had realised her wrongdoing.

David Chin Sing Chuin's offences

Between 1 and 14 March, Chin obtained the NRIC numbers of 11 clients through the course of his work and used them to redeem 11 mask packs. 

One victim, a 76-year-old office cleaner, had engaged Chin’s services as a property agent late last year to process the sale of his property. The victim provided his NRIC number to Chin for the sale. On 4 March, Chin used it to redeem a mask pack at Toa Payoh Bus Interchange.

On 5 March, after he was unable to redeem his mask pack, the victim was informed by Temasek staff that his NRIC number had already been used. The victim filed a police report, while another victim lodged a complaint with PropNex on 8 April.

Chin was terminated from PropNex on 27 April for misusing clients' information. He mailed one of the masks to his client at his request. The remaining nine masks were recovered later.

In mitigation, Chin said that his offences were unplanned and committed on the “spur of the moment” due to work stress, calling it his “biggest life mistake”. He added that he has since lost his only source of income, but was the sole breadwinner supporting a housewife and a daughter who was still schooling.

Cheating carries a jail term of up to three years, or a fine, or both. Cheating by illegally retaining personal information carries a jail term of up to three years, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both. 

Cheating and dishonestly inducing a person to deliver property carries a jail term of up to 10 years, and a fine.

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