The tuition administrator has noted NRIC numbers of students and parents to redeem their masks

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SINGAPORE: A tuition center administrator has noted the NRIC numbers of students and their parents to redeem face masks distributed at vending machines by the Temasek Foundation to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

She did this because she thought her family “needed more face masks” and thought it would be a shame if other people didn’t exchange their masks.

Hah Fong Yong, 58, pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Jan. 25) to one charge of cheating, with a second charge to be considered in sentencing.

The court heard that Hah worked behind the counter at the Stalford Tuition Center in Block 209, Upper Changi Road. She was tasked with registering students for tuition classes and had to obtain NRIC numbers from the students and their parents in order to complete enrollment registration forms.

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In February 2021, Temasek Foundation announced that they were beginning their fourth nationwide distribution of mask packs.

Residents were each entitled to one mask pack, consisting of one Livinguard mask, which they could redeem at vending machines island-wide by dialing their NRIC number.

As of March 2021, Hah began taking down NRIC numbers of students and their parents she encountered on the job.

She wrote down four to five NRIC numbers on a piece of paper whenever she had free time, the court heard.

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She wrote down NRIC numbers of at least eight individuals, intending to use the numbers to redeem Livinguard masks issued by Temasek Foundation.

After recording the NRIC numbers, Hah went to a vending machine at a bus interchange or near her home to exchange the masks and take them home.

She went to the machines and keyed in personal information of other individuals and cashed in a total of 20 masks worth a total of S$200.

On March 3, 2021, a woman filed a police report saying she and her son could not exchange their masks because they had already been taken.

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Hah was identified using police CCTV footage, which captured her redemptive masks in two locations. She was arrested at her home on March 11, 2021.

Twenty unopened packs of masks were seized at her home.

According to court documents, an Institute of Mental Health consultant conducted a forensic psychiatric examination of Hah and determined that she did not meet criteria for hoarding behavior.

She also did not suffer from any mental disorder at the time of the facts.

She will return to court for sentencing in February.

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