SINGAPORE – Loaded with pre-signed blank checks as the administrative manager of a surgical clinic, Fauziah Mat Perlam managed to embezzle around S$550,000 over nearly two years using a variety of methods, including issuing these checks to her friends and making them return the money.
She later claimed to have spent the money for personal and family purposes, such as gambling and settling her credit card and unlicensed money lending debts.
Thursday, April 21, the 47-year-old Singaporean was sentenced to three years and four months in prison.
She pleaded guilty in district court to two counts of criminal breach of trust by an employee, as well as another cheating charge.
Two other criminal charges of breach of trust were considered for sentencing.
Fauziah had worked at the Vascular and Interventional Center clinic located in the Novena area from 2015 to December 2020, the court heard. His job was terminated after the medical director discovered his crimes.
As administrative manager, she was responsible for the finances, accounting and general administration of the clinic. This included collecting money from patients, paying vendors, and collecting cash from the business at the end of each month.
She also had access to the clinic’s client management system which stored records of her finances, accounts and patients.
These access rights allowed him to create and modify invoices, including those previously issued, according to court documents.
Her role at the clinic meant she was trustee with blank checks issued in the name of the company and pre-signed by the director, who was the authorized signatory for amounts of S$50,000 or less.
It was a question of paying the suppliers quickly because the director frequently traveled abroad.
SEND PRESIGNED BLANK CHECKS TO FRIENDS
The court then heard that Fauziah used several methods to embezzle a total of S$332,000 and US$158,000 (approximately S$216,000) between December 2018 and October 2020:
- Issue the pre-signed blank checks in the name of his friends and ask them to transfer the money to him
- Pocketing money she received from patients, then reversing or neglecting to record the payments on the clinic’s system so that they are still considered “outstanding”
- Trick patients into making payments directly to him
In one example, Fauziah issued a patient, who had visited the clinic for transplant treatment in 2020, a medical fee bill of almost S$26,000.
Instead of entering the bill into the clinic’s system, she contacted the patient and told him he could make payment by transferring the money to a bank account, the court heard.
She lied saying it was the company’s account when it was actually hers. When the patient complied, she immediately withdrew the money.
When the clinic director inquired about the status of the payment, Fauziah handed a slightly amended invoice to the director in support of his claim that the patient had made payment via multiple credit card payments.
His employer only realized the bill was fraudulent and the clinic had not received any charges after conducting an internal investigation.
Separately, Fauziah also embezzled eight pre-signed blank checks from the clinic, handing them over to his friends for a total sum of S$155,000.
She told them the money was from a friend who was repaying a loan. They then transferred the money back to him, allowing him to pocket the funds.
She made no restitution to the clinic, the court heard.
On Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Melina Chew asked for three and a half years in prison, arguing that Fauziah’s actions were premeditated and planned, and that she “specifically took advantage of the extremely high degree of trust placed in her.”
For criminal breach of trust by an employee, Fauziah could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.
For cheating, she could have been imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined.