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Man jailed for using NRIC numbers from Straits Times bankruptcy section to redeem face masks

Man jailed for using NRIC numbers from Straits Times bankruptcy section to redeem face masks

File photo of a vending machine offering free reuseable face masks from Temasek Foundation. (Photo: Aaron Pang)

SINGAPORE: A man was sentenced to jail on Thursday (Sep 30) for using identity card numbers he obtained from the bankruptcy section of The Straits Times newspaper to redeem face masks from vending machines.

Yu Kwong Zee, 51, pleaded guilty to one count each of cheating and of retaining or obtaining personal information without consent. He was sentenced to five weeks and five days' jail.

Investigations showed that he was reading the newspaper on Dec 3 last year when he took down a list of NRIC numbers. He intended to use them to redeem free masks from vending machines operated by Temasek Foundation, the court heard.

At the time of the offences, Temasek Foundation was organising its third nationwide mask collection exercise. Singapore residents with a valid identification card or identification number could collect masks at designated vending machines. Masks were only issued once per NRIC number.

At about 7.05pm on Dec 5, 2020, Yu went to Nee Soon East Community Club to use the vending machines. He keyed in the NRIC numbers that he had copied from the newspaper, and "repeated this conduct seven times over", according to court documents.

His offence came to light when a 38-year-old man made a police report on Dec 8, 2020, stating that he was unable to claim his face mask from a vending machine at Bukit Timah Community Club.

Investigations revealed that Yu was captured on closed-circuit television footage using the 38-year-old man's NRIC number to claim a mask from a vending machine at Nee Soon East Community Club. 

Yu, who was unemployed at the time of the offences, kept the face masks that he claimed at home. A total of 20 face masks were seized as case exhibits, according to court documents.

Yu had "dishonestly induced" Temasek Foundation to dispense the face masks to him, read court documents.

"Temasek Foundation would not have dispensed the face masks if it had known that the accused had not been authorised to collect the face masks on behalf of the persons whose NRIC numbers he had utilised," court documents added.

In mitigation, Yu’s lawyer Cheryl Sim said that Yu committed the offence in the “spur of the moment”. The information was publicly available, and he has made “full restitution”, she added.

He was “facing some financial struggles”, which have been tough on him and the elderly parents he was supporting, she said, adding that Yu was “deeply apologetic” for his actions.

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Source: CNA/ja


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