SINGAPORE: A former SingPost employee made S$40,000 worth of unauthorised transactions in just one day, transferring the money into her own bank account while working at the Geylang branch of the postal service earlier this year.
For her actions, 41-year-old Zalinah Mohamed Kadir was sentenced to nine months' jail on Tuesday (Oct 22).
The court heard that Zalinah was a postal officer with SingPost at the time of the offence on Mar 25 this year.
Before this, she had been with SingPost for about seven years as a general operations officer and provided services to customers at the counter.
SingPost said in a statement to CNA that she was dismissed two days after the offence.
According to court documents, Zalinah reported for duty at the SingPost branch at 447 Geylang Road at about 8.30am on Mar 25.
Tasked with counter duty that day, Zalinah's job was - among others - to collect bill payments, attend to enquiries for parcels and assist customers who wanted to deposit money into their bank accounts through the NETS terminal machine.
Customers who chose to use deposit money into their accounts via SingPost would present physical cash to an employee over the counter.
The employee would then count the cash, enter the deposit amount into the machine, and swipe the customer's ATM card into the terminal. Next, the customer would key in his PIN number, completing the transaction.
Once complete, the employee would deposit the physical cash into a till, which is tallied at the end of the day against deposit transactions.
The money is then credited by SingPost to relevant banks.
SHE SWIPED HER OWN CARD, "DEPOSITING" MONEY BUT NOT PLACING CASH IN TILL
The court heard that on Mar 25, Zalinah swiped her own ATM card multiple times without placing any physical cash into the till, thereby "depositing" S$39,820 into her POSB account using the machine at her counter.
In total, she made 14 unauthorised deposit transactions between about 1pm and 5pm.
She then transferred all that money to bank accounts provided by an unidentified loan shark that she had previously borrowed money from.
When her shift ended that day, there was a shortfall of about S$40,000 in cash that she could not account for, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana.
Zalinah initially told the branch manager that the money would be made available by the end of the day.
She later admitted that she had made the unauthorised transactions into her own bank account in the hopes of obtaining a loan from a loan shark, and that the money was no longer available.
The branch manager made a police report, and SingPost paid the shortfall to the relevant banks.
Investigations revealed that Zalinah had wanted to borrow S$15,000 from the loan shark, who agreed to do so only if she performed transactions into the accounts he provided.
He had assured her that he would transfer the money back to her account by the end of the day, but did not.
MONEY NOT RECOVERED
"None of the monies transferred into the POSB and UOB accounts ... were recovered," said the prosecutor.
Zalinah, who has made restitution of S$400, pleaded guilty to one charge under the Computer Misuse Act.
The prosecutor had asked for the term that was meted out, saying that the woman had abused her position to commit the offences via her access to the NETS terminal.
The judge granted Zalinah's request to defer sentence, and she will begin her jail term from Nov 5.
For knowingly performing an unauthorised computer transaction, Zalinah could have been jailed for up to two years, fined a maximum S$5,000, or both.
After the hearing, SingPost said in response to CNA's queries that "as a public service provider, integrity is a core value we embrace and we do not tolerate dishonest behaviour".