SINGAPORE – A woman who submitted false information to the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), leading to fraudulent claims totalling more than $64,000, was sentenced on Friday (Sept 13) to 12 weeks’ jail.

Lau Pin Lin, 42, who worked as an administrative assistant, committed the offences, as she had acted on the instructions of her then boss Liu Mei Ying, the court heard.

Together, they made 14 successful bogus claims.

Lau pleaded guilty last month to two offences under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act. She also admitted to one count each of cheating and falsification of accounts.

Liu, 55, was the sole director of Derma Flora Beauty Academy and Derma Flora Beauty. She was also the sole proprietor of Beaux Ex Bellus Trading. Collectively, these firms were known as the Derma Flora Group.

Lau, who worked for Derma Flora Beauty Academy and Derma Flora Beauty, resigned in October 2013. Liu’s cases are still pending.

The two companies were training providers, conducting beauty and body treatment courses that had been approved under WDA’s Funding for Employer-based Training Scheme.

The initiative aimed to encourage employers to upgrade their workers’ skills by defraying their costs in doing so.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Norman Yew said that Derma Flora Beauty and Beaux Ex Bellus Trading were “applicant companies” that had also applied for WDA funding under the scheme.

These firms could apply for training grants to fund their employees’ participation in courses run by approved training providers.

DPP Yew said that between December 2011 and July 2013, Lau acted on Liu’s instructions and accessed SkillsConnect – an online portal hosted on WDA’s server – to submit false information to the agency.

WDA was, among other things, told that trainees sent for courses by Derma Flora Beauty and Beaux Ex Bellus Trading were employees of the two firms, but there were, in fact, no such workers. As a result, 14 successful fraudulent claims were made totalling more than $64,000.

The DPP told District Judge Kessler Soh: “Lau was never intended to receive any direct financial benefit nor did she receive any direct financial benefit from her participation in the scams.”

The offences came to light in July 2013 when WDA conducted an audit on the Derma Flora Group. Lau then contacted the agency and the Committee for Private Education later that year, telling them about some fraudulent attendance records.

On April 1, 2014, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) received a complaint from WDA against the Derma Flora Group about the fraudulent training grant claims.

Lau came clean about what she had done during CAD’s investigations.

For falsifying accounts, offenders can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.