At the State Courts today, a 36-year-old Filipino Celeste Provido Apostol1 was sentenced for engaging in a conspiracy to make false declarations in work pass applications. The accused was the mastermind of a domestic work permit scam and is one of the largest scam of this nature that has been investigated by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
The accused was charged in court on 20 January 2015 with 33 charges - 32 counts of false declaration offences and one count for carrying out the activities of an employment agency without obtaining a licence.
The accused pleaded guilty in Court on 15 October 2015 to 16 charges, with the remaining 17 charges taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing. In total, she was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment for the 16 proceeded charges.
Facts of the Case
Investigations revealed that the accused was the mastermind of a scam to obtain work permits for foreigners. These foreigners had no intention to work as foreign domestic workers (FDWs), but only wanted to stay in Singapore. The accused conspired with “recruiters” who sourced for foreigners who were in need of work permits to validate their stay in Singapore, and locals who were willing to provide their particulars as “employers”.
The accused then matched the foreigners with these bogus “employers”. Using the foreigners’ and employers’ particulars that she had obtained, she arranged for work pass application forms to be submitted to MOM between June 2009 and March 2013. The “employers” agreed to provide their particulars for monetary gain. The accused knew that the foreigners would not be working for these “employers” as FDWs.
In total, the accused and the recruiters found 27 “FDWs” and 21 “employers”.
The accused collected fees between $3,500 and $4,000 from each foreign worker for the work permit.
The bogus “FDWs” used their work permits to remain in Singapore. Some of them worked as performing artistes, freelance cleaners, manicurists, and in other odd jobs. None of them worked as FDWs.
Commenting on the case, Mr Kevin Teoh, Divisional Director of MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division said, “This is a serious case of deceit, and a blatant disregard for the work pass framework. We will not tolerate fraud, and will take firm action against those who wilfully deceive the Ministry.”
MOM Taking Other Offenders to Task
The bogus “FDWs” involved in the scam have been prosecuted and convicted in Court2. They will be sent home and permanently barred from working in Singapore. MOM will separately deal with the “recruiters” and bogus “employers”. Culpable “employers” will be barred from hiring any foreign worker.
Since 2014, 78 individuals were convicted of furnishing false information to MOM to obtain work passes. Providing false information to MOM to obtain a work pass is an offence under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA). If convicted, offenders can be fined up to $20,000, with possible imprisonment of up to two years.
Members of the public who know of persons or employers who contravene the EFMA should notify MOM at Tel: (65) 6438 5122 or email email@example.com. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
1. The accused worked as a Marketing Manager on an Employment Pass between 23 November 2009 and 17 August 2011.
2. The Court had imposed total fines of between $3,000 and $10,000, as well as an imprisonment sentence of four weeks.
Source information taken from https://www.mom.gov.sg/newsroom/press-releases/2016/0107-mastermind-of-work-permit-scam-sentenced-to-16-month-jail-term