Man cheated HPB of more than $28,000 in TransitLink credit through app

·Senior Reporter
·3 min read
A man accessing his account on his phone. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
A man accessing his account on his phone. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A man who cheated Health Promotion Board (HPB) into delivering him TransitLink credit amounting to more than $28,000 and $25 in e-vouchers was jailed one-and-a-half years on Tuesday (28 September).

Ong Lee Boon, 28, had learned how to earn HealthPoints through HealthHub using various accounts. HealthHub is an online portal under the HPB where users can access health content, rewards and services.

Ong pleaded guilty to one count of cheating by personation, with another similar charge taken into consideration for his sentencing. A third charge of securing access without authority to a computer to obtain a service was also considered for his sentencing.

The Malaysian created his HealthHub account in 2018 using his FIN number. He earned HealthPoints and redeemed them by crediting them to his personal EZ-Link card for travel expenses.

After gaining his permanent resident status in September 2018, Ong decided to try creating another HealthHub account using his NRIC number and was successful in his attempt.

He then decided to create more HealthHub accounts using ID numbers belonging to others so that he could earn more HealthPoints. He discovered that he was able to do so even if the name registered did not match the ID number provided.

Between 26 September 2018 and 14 April 2019, Ong created 1,213 HealthHub accounts using false details. He generated ID numbers using an online NRIC generator. He then used names from his company’s customer database or random names he came up with. He also used an online email account generator for emails.

He then bought 500 pre-registered SIM cards and used some of them to register accounts. To keep track of the details, he kept an Excel file.

Using some of the Fake HealthHub Accounts, Ong earned points by answering quizzes on the HealthHub mobile app. To quicken the process, he used another application to record and replay a series of operations on a mobile phone in order to automate and speed up the answering of quizzes.

He then “scaled up” his operations by buying more mobile phones and using them to earn HealthPoints, according to the prosecution.

Ong used the points to redeem TransitLink credit, knowing that he could then use this to buy NTUC Fairprice vouchers. He would then sell the vouchers for cash.

He bought additional NETS FlashPay cards and used 12 of these to redeem points earned.

Between 31 October 2018 and 14 April 2019, on more than 2,000 occasions, Ong cheated HPB into delivering to him TransitLink credit amounting to $28,576.60 and $25 in e-vouchers amounting to S$25.

When buying vouchers using the TransitLink credit, Ong would don a mask and cap to hide his identity. He then sold the vouchers to three buyers.

In total, he sold $19,000 worth of vouchers for $17,230. He claimed to have handed the cash to his sister in Malaysia to pay for renovation-related expenses.

The Chief of HealthHub reported suspicious activity on HealthHub to the police on 18 March 2019.

Ong was arrested on 17 April, and has since made full restitution to HPB.

Ong’s lawyer, Ong Ying Ping, stated that his client was genuinely remorseful and had offended at a time when his family was facing financial pressure. The lawyer submitted demand letters by creditors, which coincided with the period of the offences.

He added that his client had volunteered for community service, and submitted character references to attest to his “honest” character.

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