Man gets jail for forging payslips with higher salary to get credit card for Bitcoin purchases

SINGAPORE: A man who forged his payslips so he could get a credit card with a higher limit for the purchase of bitcoin was sentenced to six months’ jail on Wednesday (Feb 9).

Lin Mingzhong, 48, was unable to repay his credit card debts and eventually declared bankruptcy, leading to internal investigations by the bank that uncovered his crime.

He pleaded guilty last month to one count of forgery for the purpose of cheating.

Lin began investing in Bitcoin in an online cryptocurrency trading platform for some extra income in early 2020. He began applying for credit cards with various banks to obtain more funds to purchase bitcoin.

Around March 2020, he decided to apply for a credit card with Citibank. He was working with Singapore Green Engineers at the time, drawing a monthly salary of S$6,000.

However, instead of declaring this income in the credit card application, he used a payslip he previously received from his former employer Mediacorp in October 2019 as a template. The payslip showed a monthly salary of S$8,100.

Lin made two copies of the payslip and edited them such that they appeared to be issued to him by Singapore Green Engineers in January 2020 and February 2020.

He submitted his credit card application with these forged payslips and successfully received Citibank into issuing him a credit card with a limit of S$32,400, four times his declared monthly salary.

Had Lin declared his actual monthly income, his credit limit would have been S$24,000 instead.

After receiving the credit card, Lin immediately used it to buy S$31,472.13 worth of bitcoin on platform eToro on Mar 26, 2020.

He did not make any payments towards this sum of money, and Citibank canceled his card on Jun 15, 2020. As of Aug 17, 2020, the outstanding balance to be paid on the card was S$33,638.95, including interest. Lin’s forgeries caused Citibank to suffer a loss of S$9,638.95, according to court documents.

His crimes were uncovered after Citibank investigated Lin’s failure to pay his credit card debt and checked with Singapore Green Engineers about his salary.

The bank filed a police report, and Lin later declared bankruptcy due to his inability to repay his credit card debts with Citibank and other banks.

In mitigation at the last hearing, Lin said he was “a bit lost” due to his involvement in cryptocurrency and had lost S$300,000 to S$400,000.

He said it had taken him a long time to find a job but that he currently earns S$8,000 monthly, and a jail term of six months would lead him to “lose everything again”.

The case was previously adjourned for him to make restitution, but he was unable to do so. He was allowed to begin his jail term on Apr 1 to settle some work affairs.

For forgery to commit cheating, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

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