SINGAPORE — Eager to invest in bitcoin, Lin Mingzhong decided to forge two payslips and claim he was earning more to increase his credit limit and get his hands on some extra cash.
On Wednesday February 9, the 48-year-old Singaporean was jailed for six months after pleading guilty to one count of forgery with the intent of cheating.
He started trading bitcoin on online cryptocurrency trading platform eToro in early 2020, the court heard. He then thought of applying for credit cards from different banks in order to obtain funds to buy bitcoin.
As part of his application to Citibank, he had to declare his monthly salary and submit payslips to support his claims.
He was then earning a monthly salary of S$6,000 with the energy services company Singapore Green Engineers. Court documents did not indicate his professional role.
Lin falsely stated that his monthly salary was S$8,100 using as a model a payslip he had previously received while working for Mediacorp in October 2019.
He then made two copies of the payslip and edited them to show that they had been issued by Singapore Green Engineers in January and February 2020.
On March 15, 2020, he logged into Citibank’s online banking portal and submitted the application with the forged payslips.
Citibank then sent him a credit card with a limit of S$32,400, four times his reported monthly salary. He immediately used it to buy S$31,472 worth of bitcoins on eToro.
Citibank canceled the card in June 2020 after it failed to pay its bills.
Lin’s breaches were later exposed in early August that year, after the bank’s country fraud risk management arm investigated his default on his credit card debt. .
Citibank made inquiries with Lin’s employer who revealed that his monthly salary was only S$6,000.
The court also heard that the bank suffered a loss of around S$9,600 – the card’s outstanding balance minus the S$24,000 credit limit that Citibank would have granted Lin if he had declared his income in all honesty.
Lin has since declared bankruptcy because he was unable to repay various credit card debts from banks, including Citibank.
Anyone found guilty of forgery with the intent to cheat can be imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined.