Courts sales assistant edited sales invoices to receive more commission over 1.5 years, gets jail
SINGAPORE: Over one-and-a-half years, a sales assistant at electronics and furniture retailer Courts secretly used his superiors' computer accounts to edit sales invoices so he would receive more commission.
Cai Bangzuan, a 57-year-old Singapore permanent resident, was given four months and two weeks' jail on Wednesday (May 19). He pleaded guilty to six charges of cheating and unauthorised modification or access of computer material, with another eight charges taken into consideration.
The court heard that Cai worked for Courts Singapore at its Somerset branch. He was a sales assistant at its furniture department from 2014 to November 2018.
Cai was given a unique staff code and a personal account to access the company's computer system Navision in order to track sales invoices and check stock levels.
Managers and supervisors' Navision accounts come with additional access rights to edit sales invoices. When a customer decides to make a purchase, the sales assistant attending to him or her will create a sales invoice using their unique staff code, before handing the invoice to the cashier for payment processing.
The sales assistant will later be paid commission for facilitating the sale. Commissions to be paid are tracked by the unique staff code reflected on sales invoices, the court heard.
On Nov 13, 2018, Cai was working a shift with a department manager at Courts Somerset when the manager saw Cai standing beside a computer terminal which was logged into the Navision system.
The manager realised that the system was logged into the account of a sales supervisor, displaying a sales invoice that indicated it was from an online order. Cai's unique staff code was reflected on the invoice.
The manager made more checks and found numerous online sales invoices reflecting Cai's code. She found it suspicious, as it was highly unlikely for sales staff members deployed at a retail branch to facilitate online sales transactions.
She confronted Cai, who admitted that he had accessed the system and edited sales invoices to reflect his unique staff code, even though he did not provide any assistance for these orders.
He did this because he knew he would receive commission for all transactions reflecting his staff code. He had been doing this since at least February 2017. He would look out for instances when a manager or supervisor log into the system and edit the sales invoices if they left the terminal unattended.
A Courts branch manager lodged a police report. Investigations found that Cai had logged into the Navision system using five superiors' accounts on at least 674 occasions.
As a result, Courts Singapore was deceived into delivering S$4,396.68 to him as commission for orders he did not facilitate.
Cai has since made full restitution. The prosecution called for at least four months and two weeks' jail, citing the long period of offending, difficulty of detection and his financial motive.
The prosecutor acknowledged that the hundreds of modified invoices did not affect the orders of Courts' customers, but said that Courts has to expend resources to identify and correct the discrepancies.