Woman who used fake credentials to get HK$88,000-a-month CEO job convicted of fraud

Mother of three kept the job for 10 months, earning around $870,000

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 March, 2016, 3:53pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 March, 2016, 8:56pm

A mother of three who pocketed $870,000 from a chief executive job she held for 10 months on fake qualifications was found guilty of fraud on Tuesday.

Lee Lam, 43, used a fake reference letter when she applied for the post at Shizhu International Education Management Corporation. She also fabricated her work experience.

The District Court heard management at the education services firm found her performance unsatisfactory shortly after she was hired in 2011.

But when they asked her to resign from the HK$88,000-a-month job, she produced evidence that she was pregnant and therefore avoided dismissal.

After Lee returned from maternity leave, they asked her to quit again. But that request was withdrawn following an alleged accident in which Lee slipped in the company’s toilet.

While Lee was taking leave to get treatment, the firm hired private detectives to investigate her background. The case was reported to police as the company boss suspected Lee had made up her qualifications.

Lee claimed she had previously headed the marketing team of an education services company called Easy Carry. But that firm was not even engaged in the education business and denied it had ever hired her.

Lee was eventually sacked by Shizhu in January 2012, after receiving a total of HK$870,000 during 10 months of employment.

“The representations made to Shizhu were all fake. The defendant obtained her job by fraud,” ruled judge Josiah Lam Wai-kuen.

In mitigation, Lee’s lawyer said she suffered from depression after giving birth to her daughter in 2011.

Lee also had two young sons, aged seven and one, who were both receiving long-term medical treatment. She also needed care for her terminally ill father.

In addition, her lawyer expressed concerns about the prolonged case-processing time.

Lee was arrested in February 2014, about 15 months after the case was reported to police. It took another 16 months before a charge was formally pressed against her in June 2015.

The judge also questioned why it had taken more than two years to handle Lee’s case, in which only four local witnesses gave evidence and was not one of great complexity.

In reply to an inquiry by the Post, the Department of Justice said it would not be appropriate for the prosecution to provide details of the progress or handling of this case at this stage.

“To do so may in turn affect the remaining judicial process,” it said in a statement.

The court adjourned sentencing to April 20, pending probation and background reports on Lee, who was released on bail.