SINGAPORE: A man who has been faking degrees to get high-paying jobs since 2009 was foiled in 2020 when a construction company checked his qualifications at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
Yeoh Keng Swee, 55, was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Thursday (Nov. 24). He pleaded guilty to three counts of forgery with intent to cheat, with an additional 10 counts taken into account.
Yeoh forged several degrees from universities such as NTU and the National University of Singapore (NUS) in subjects such as engineering and law to apply for jobs ranging from executive positions to chief finance officer.
He searched for PDF copies of the documents he wanted and printed them out as templates. He would then print his name and other details on another piece of paper.
He cut out the details he needed and pasted them over the template before copying it to make the forged documents.
According to the indictment forms, his crimes date back to 2009, when he forged a Bachelor of Accountancy degree, allegedly issued by NTU.
He submitted it to a company for the audit manager role. Court documents do not indicate whether he got the job.
Details have been included in court documents for only three jobs in recent years, the first being in July 2019.
Yeoh forged several documents, including a Bachelor of Accountancy degree with honors certificate purportedly from NTU and a Master of Science in Business Administration degree purportedly from Andrews University.
He also forged a certificate stating that he was a certified practicing accountant.
He emailed the forged documents to Boon Chang Structure as part of his application for the position of chief financial officer.
He was hired for the job and started working in September 2019, but his job performance was poor and generated numerous complaints.
He resigned in December 2019, claiming his eyesight was deteriorating and he wanted to rest. He received a total of S$14,324.75 for his time with the company.
In January 2020, Yeoh interviewed Gain City Best-Electric for the position of Chief Financial Officer. He submitted several forged documents similar to those he submitted for the job in 2019.
Gain City was tricked into believing that Yeoh had the necessary qualifications to be hired as a finance director, and hired him.
He started working in February 2020, but was fired in July 2020 after failing to meet required performance criteria. He received a total of S$51,258.46 for his time there.
THE JOBS INTERVIEW THAT DECIDES HIM
In November 2020, Yeoh falsified several documents: a Bachelor of Law degree, allegedly issued by NUS, and a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) degree from NTU.
He submitted the forged documents as part of his application to Success Forever Construction and Maintenance for the position of construction project manager.
He attended an interview in December 2020 and claimed he was in too much of a hurry to bring the original documents.
After this, he attended two more interviews, but proved unable to satisfactorily answer questions that tested his technical knowledge.
After hearing his interviewer and her employer talk about verifying his qualifications, Yeoh withdrew his application. He asked the interviewer to destroy the evidence he had submitted before leaving.
In January 2021, a representative filed a police report on behalf of NTU, stating that the university had received a credential verification request and found that the credential submitted by Yeoh was forged.
On Thursday, Yeoh asked the judge whether the media could be prevented from publishing his name.
“I’m here to ask the media not to publish my name on the newspaper because my family and friends will be affected,” he said.
The judge told him that there was no gag order in his case and that there was “nothing to stop the media” as it was a public hearing.
Deputy Prosecutor Lee Zu Zhao asked for 15 to 18 months in prison. He said he was not asking for compensation as Yeoh lacked the resources to compensate the victims.
DEFENSE REQUESTS A REDUCED PRISON TERM
He has not issued a refund, but his lawyer Audrey Koo of Populus Law said it is because he does not have the financial resources to do so.
Ms. Koo said he now works as a kitchen assistant cum cashier and earns S$850 to S$1,000 monthly.
Since his transgressions and subsequent arrest, Yeoh has worked hard to get back on track, she said.
“It’s hard for him at his age, but it’s an honest life,” she said of his new job.
She said Yeoh is deeply remorseful and has no previous convictions. He also cooperated fully with the police. She asked for no more than 15 months in jail, insisting that Yeoh has “kept his hands clean” since his arrest.
He also suffers from health issues such as high blood pressure and kidney disease.
The judge said he generally agreed with the prosecution, but would make sure prisons know about Yeoh’s medical problems.