SINGAPORE - About 4,400 people have been found to have submitted false claims for SkillsFuture credits without taking any courses, SkillsFuture Singapore said on Friday (Feb 24).
The agency has issued letters to these individuals to recover the monies which total about $2.2 million, it said.
More than two-thirds of the claims were submitted around the end of January, and were detected using a data analytics system.
"The course directory and claims process were designed to be simple, inclusive and user-friendly. It is regrettable that some individuals have abused the system and submitted false claims," SkillsFuture Singapore said in its statement.
Individuals who provide false information to the agency can be fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed up to a year.
Until this incident, the number of false claims submitted by individuals has been about 80 such claims detected each month for the last few months, it said.
"This is a serious incident of false claims involving SkillsFuture Credit, and we have taken immediate steps to recover the monies involved. We have also stepped up our checks and audits," said chief executive Ng Cher Pong.
Enforcement actions include mystery shopping audits to address unethical and misleading marketing practices, increasing the scope and frequency of checks and audits, improving the data analytics system and making more explicit the penalties for false claims when individuals submit their claims.
The agency will also set up a Process Review Committee to conduct a review of the processing of all training-related claims and disbursements.
Earlier in February, SkillsFuture Singapore posted on its Facebook page that there was an alleged scam circulating on SMS and WhatsApp.
The messages told Singaporeans how they could convert their SkillsFuture credits into cash.
The government programme, rolled out last January, gives every Singaporean aged 25 and older $500 credit to pay for courses.
The credits do not expire and will be topped up at regular intervals. Singaporeans could use the credits for over 18,000 courses as of February 2017.
More than 126,000 Singaporeans used it in its first year.
This article was first published on Feb 24, 2017.
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