As mask usage gets ever more prevalent, demand has also increased…
To the point where consumers are actually undertaking illegal actions to… ell, procure them.
Much to the chagrin of mafia bosses everywhere, I’m sure.
“So we have gone from peddling drugs to…stealing masks,” said Ilikebarbiegirls77, a self-proclaimed mafia boss from Krakozhia.
Remittance Teller Used Customers’ FINs to Redeem Up to 50 Free Masks ‘Coz He Likes Them
Meet Yu Rowell Ko, a 39-year-old teller at Metrobank Remittance. Having been tasked with the all-important assignment of handling customers’ identity cards, he instead chose to commit the unthinkable:
He utilised their personal details to retrieve free mask kits.
So lest you’re unaware, Temasek Foundation had held a mask distribution campaign from 30 November to 13 December 2020. As long as you’re a Singapore resident with a valid NRIC, birth certificate, FIN card, or any legitimate ID with a barcode, you were essentially good to go.
And like other Singaporeans, Yu went for it.
On around 30 November 2020, he collected his mask kit, which contained two black reusable masks and three reusable filters.
Unfortunately, his fondness for it went beyond the norm.
Craving more, but aware that each person’s only entitled to one kit, he decided to venture down a rather unconventional path.
Between 1 and 9 December 2020, Yu channeled his inner scribe and transplanted (copied) the FINs of his customers onto separate pieces of paper. He also logged into his firm’s internal system and accessed random FINs.
By the end of his endeavour, he had procured around 60 to 70 FINs. Not too shabby for Robin Hood, but way too illicit for Bao Qing Tian.
He then proceeded to redeem 40 to 50 mask kits, all through seven separate occasions.
On around 10 or 11 December 2020, however, he got cold feet when he saw others getting caught for committing such an offence. Fearful, he threw away most of the mask kits.
But by then, it was all too late.
Unbeknownst to him at the time, a foreign domestic helper had actually lodged a police report on 4 December 2020, claiming that she had tried to redeem her face mask only to be told that it had already been retrieved on 2 December 2020.
In the end, only three sets of unopened mask kits, as well as eight face masks, were returned.
In court, Yu expressed remorse and sought leniency, requesting for an alternative to jail time.
To support his cause, he provided evidence of volunteer work, and stated that his wife was pregnant and had bled two days ago.
District Judge Christopher Goh, however, was stern and stated that a mere stern warning would not be possible in this case.
A jail term was all but mandatory.
Sentencing has since been adjourned to 18 February, and Yu could face a jail term of up to ten years or a fine. He has since pleaded guilty on 12 January 2022.
Unfortunately, such occurrences, as hinted at above, were far from uncommon. As my handsome colleague once said: “Some people steal money, some steal identities, but others wake up in the morning thinking: Hmm, it’s a beautiful day to steal some face masks.”
Indeed, several individuals have already been charged for the illegal redemption of masks, with one allegedly redeeming a whopping 257 masks.
But that was not the most “impressive” haul. Instead, the title belongs to a then 47-year-old woman who redeemed over 460 reusable face masks.
As the Wise Old Man once said: “Singaporeans are truly cheapo.”
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