Man admits forging payslips with higher salary to get credit card to buy bitcoin, went bankrupt
SINGAPORE: Wanting to get a credit card with a higher limit so he could buy bitcoin, a man forged his payslips and made it seem as though he received a higher salary, tricking a bank into issuing him a credit card.
Lin Mingzhong, 48, was unable to repay his credit card debts and eventually declared bankruptcy, leading to internal investigations by the bank that uncovered his crime.
He pleaded guilty on Monday (Jan 24) to one count of forgery for the purpose of cheating.
The court heard that Lin began investing in bitcoin on an online cryptocurrency trading platform to earn extra income in early 2020.
To obtain funds to purchase bitcoin, he decided to apply for credit cards with various banks.
Around March 2020, he decided to apply for a credit card with Citibank. As part of the application, he had to declare his monthly salary and submit payslips to substantiate it.
At the time, Lin was working with Singapore Green Engineers, drawing a monthly salary of S$6,000.
He decided to falsely declare a higher salary to get a credit card with a higher credit limit.
Lin used a payslip he had previously received from his ex-employer Mediacorp in October 2019 as a template. This payslip reflected a monthly salary of S$8,100.
Using a computer, Lin made two copies of the payslip and edited them to make it seem as though they were issued to him by Singapore Green Engineers in January 2020 and February 2020.
He submitted his credit card application with these forged payslips and successfully deceived Citibank into issuing him a credit card with a limit of S$32,400, four times his declared monthly salary.
Had Lin declared his actual monthly income, his credit limit would have been S$24,000 instead.
Lin received the credit card shortly and immediately used it to purchase S$31,472.12 worth of bitcoin on Mar 24, 2020.
But he did not make any payments towards this sum, and Citibank cancelled his credit card on Jun 15, 2020. As of Aug 17, 2020, the outstanding balance to be paid on the card was S$33,638.95, including interest.
Lin's forgeries caused Citibank to suffer a loss of S$9,638.95, the prosecutor said.
In early August 2020, Citibank's Country Fraud Risk Management Branch investigated Lin's failure to make any payments towards his credit card debt.
As part of its probe, it checked with Singapore Green Engineers, which informed the bank that Lin's monthly salary was only S$6,000.
The bank filed a police report, and Lin later declared bankruptcy due to his inability to repay his credit card debts with Citibank and other banks.
In mitigation, Lin said he was "a bit lost" at the time due to his involvement in cryptocurrency and lost S$300,000 to S$400,000.
He said that it took him a long time to find a job and that he currently earns S$8,000 monthly. If he goes into jail for six months as asked for by the prosecution, he would "lose everything again".
He is set to return to court next month for mitigation and sentencing.
For forgery to commit cheating, he could be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.