Pair jailed for making false welfare claims

Woman and ex-boyfriend get between two and three years for taking HK$74,000

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 4:34am

A woman and her former boyfriend were jailed yesterday for using other people's identity cards - including that of the man's wife - to trick the Social Welfare Services Department into doling out HK$74,000 in welfare payments.

Cheung So-ching, 31, was sentenced to two years and three months in jail, and Lui Cheuk-fai, 37, to three years and five months, by the District Court.

Cheung, who is unemployed, had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud. Lui, a decoration worker, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud and one count of theft.

The two, who had been in a relationship, have since separated.

The court heard earlier that Cheung had presented herself as Lui's wife, whose name is Lee Sau-fong, and another woman, Cheung Yik-man, between June 22, 2010 and September 2, 2011.

Although Cheung So-ching herself was a recipient of comprehensive social welfare assistance, she used these identities to apply for more welfare and successfully got HK$73,782 from the department.

She provided fake documents, including bank documents and rental receipts.

"You used other people's identities and fake documents to commit the offences," District Judge Sham Siu-man said, adding that planning had been involved.

They were ordered to each pay the department back half of the money.

A police officer testified during the trial that Lui had taken his wife's ID card from her handbag in October 2010 to help Cheung apply for welfare.

The court also heard that Cheung So-ching used the ID of Cheung Yik-man, which the latter had lost in 2007, and the address of a Tai Po flat occupied by Lam Kai-yin to obtain welfare. Lam testified that Lui had asked to borrow the flat so Cheung So-ching could conduct classes.

Cheung So-ching met officials six times and a career counsellor 15 times posing as Cheung Yik-man. As Lee, she met the officials and social workers 23 times and also opened an account at Chiyu Banking.

Lui's barrister, Arthur Yip, said his client's wife had forgiven him and that Lui had moved back into the family home.

A department spokesman said the department had clear guidelines regarding the approval of comprehensive social security aid, and recipients had a responsibility to be truthful.

He said that when the department used non-government organisations to provide career support services, the staff would require the applicant to show their ID to verify their identity.