Man admits to forging payslips with higher salary to get credit card to buy bitcoin, went bankrupt

SINGAPORE: Wanting to get a credit card with a higher limit to buy bitcoin, a man falsified his payslips and made it look like he was getting a higher salary, prompting a bank to issue him a card credit.

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

He pleaded guilty Monday (January 24) to one count of forgery with intent to cheat.

The court heard that Lin started investing in bitcoin on an online cryptocurrency trading platform to earn extra income in early 2020.

To get funds to buy bitcoin, he decided to apply for credit cards from different banks.

Around March 2020, he decided to apply for a credit card from Citibank. As part of the application, he had to declare his monthly salary and submit payslips to justify it.

At the time, Lin worked with Singapore Green Engineers, earning a monthly salary of S$6,000.

He decided to falsely declare a higher salary to obtain a credit card with a higher credit limit.

Lin used a payslip he previously received from his ex-employer Mediacorp in October 2019 as a template. This payslip reflected a monthly salary of S$8,100.

Using a computer, Lin made two copies of the payslip and edited them to look like they had been issued to him by Singapore Green Engineers in January 2020 and February 2020.

He submitted his credit card application with these falsified payslips and managed to trick Citibank into issuing him a credit card with a limit of S$32,400, four times his reported monthly salary.

If Lin had declared her actual monthly income, her credit limit would have been S$24,000 instead.

Lin received the credit card soon after and immediately used it to purchase $31,472.12 worth of bitcoin on March 24, 2020.

But he made no payment for this amount and Citibank canceled his credit card on June 15, 2020. As of August 17, 2020, the outstanding balance payable on the card was S$33,638.95 including interest.

Lin’s counterfeits caused Citibank a loss of S$9,638.95, the prosecutor said.

In early August 2020, Citibank’s Country Fraud Risk Management arm investigated Lin’s failure to make payments for his credit card debt.

As part of his investigation, he checked with Singapore Green Engineers, who informed the bank that Lin’s monthly salary was only S$6,000.

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, Lin said he was “a bit lost” at the time due to his involvement in cryptocurrency and lost S$300,000-400,000.

He said it took him a long time to find a job and currently earns S$8,000 a month. If he does six months in prison as requested by the prosecution, he “would lose everything”.

He is expected to return to court next month for mitigation and sentencing.

For committing a forgery for cheating, he could be imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined.

About Shirley L. Kreger

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