Have you ever been scammed, or have you ever lied to someone to maybe earn some extra cash? Here are five things you should know about cheating offences in Singapore.
- What is Cheating?
Cheating according to the Penal Code is an offence usually relating to property and does not include having an extra-marital affair. According to section 415 of the Penal Code, cheating is defined as follows:
Whoever deceives any person, regardless of whether such deception was the sole or main reason, fraudulently or dishonestly causes the person to:
a. Deliver or causes such delivery of any property (including money) to any person;
b. Consent that any person shall retain any property; or
c. Do anything that the person would not have done so if the person was not deceived; or
d. Causes the person to omit to do something that he would have done if he were not deceived.
These acts or omission must also cause damage, or harm to any person in body, mind, reputation or property.
Examples of cheating would include misrepresenting the value of a product to sell the item at an unreasonable price. It would be selling an imitation branded good as if it was the original.
- Are there other Forms of Cheating?
Cheating is not necessarily limited to dishonestly receiving or retaining property or money. It is an offence if someone used dishonesty or fraudulent means to commit an illegal act. Here are some examples of other forms of cheating.
Cheating by Personation
One can be cheating by impersonation. According to section 416 of the Penal Code, a person is said to have cheated by personation if –
he pretends to be someone else or by intentionally substituting one person for another or representing that he or any other person is a person other than he or such other person is really is.
Illegally Obtained Personal Information
According to section 416A of the Penal Code, it is an offence if someone, knowing or having reason to believe that any personal information about another person was obtained without that person’s consent. Where such personal information was –
a. obtained or retained; or
b. supplied, offered to supply, transmitted or made available, by any means, for the purpose of committing or facilitating an offence.
For example, an offender hacked into the victim’s computer to steal credit card information for the offender’s personal use.
Personal information under section 416A, is any information about an individual that is used to identify the individual. Examples of such information are, but not limited to, biometric data, name, address, birthdate, national registration card number (NRIC), passport number, a written, electronic or digital signature, user authentication code, credit or debit card number, and password.
Cheating in Casinos
It is an offence to cheat in a casino, but this is an offence under section 172A of the Casino Control Act and not the Penal Code. According to section 172A, a person shall not, in relation to the playing of any game in a casino, obtain or attempt to obtain any money of advantage by:
a. fraudulent trick, device, sleight of hand or representation;
b. fraudulent scheme or practice;
c. fraudulent use of gaming equipment or any other thing; or
d. placing a bet after the result of the game is known.
Obtaining Services Dishonestly or Fraudulently
According to section 420A of the Penal Code, it is an offence if a person obtains service for himself or another person dishonestly or fraudulently and –
a. The services are made available on the basis that payment has been, is being or will be made for or in respect of them;
b. Obtaining service without having been made for or in respect of them or without payment having been made in full; and
c. When the person obtains the services, the person knows that the services are being made available because of the reason stated in (a) or that they might be, and the person intends on not making payment at all or not in f
- What are the Punishments of Cheating and its Variants?
Cheating is a serious offence and the consequences can be severe, here are the statutory punishments prescribed by law. The punishment for an offence –
a. Simple cheating under section 415, is an imprisonment term which may extend to 3 years, or with fine, or both.
b. Cheating by personation under section 416, is an imprisonment term which may extend to 5 years, or with fine, or with both.
c. Illegally obtaining personal information under section 416A, is an imprisonment term which may extend to 3 years, or with a fine not more than $10,000, or with both.
d. Cheating in casinos under section 172A of the Casino Control Act, is an imprisonment which may extend to 7 years or a fine which may extend to $150,000, or with both.
e. Obtaining services dishonestly or fraudulently under section 420A, is an imprisonment term not more than 10 years, or a fine, or to both.
- Simple Cheating vs Aggravated Cheating
Section 415 of the Penal Code defines what an offence of cheating is, however, there is an aggravated cheating defined under section 420 of the Penal Code. It is as follows:
Whoever, cheats and thereby dishonestly induces the person deceived to deliver any property to any person, or to make, alter or destroy the whole or any part if a valuable security (e.g. credit or debit card), or anything which is signed or sealed, and which is capable of being converted into a valuable security.
Such an offence is punishable under section 420 of the Penal Code and may be sentenced to an imprisonment which may extend to 10 years and also with a fine.
- What are some of the Aggravating and Mitigating Factors?
In cases of cheating, it differs from one to the other, depending on the various circumstances surrounding it. Although some cheating cases may seem similar, there are actually aggravating factors that may warrant a more severe punishment.
In most cheating cases, it usually involves money and the amount cheated is an indication of the seriousness of the offence. Generally, the larger the amount of money cheated, the more severe the case and hence, a higher sentence.
The Modus Operandi
The modus operandi or the method of working, is an important indication of how complex and premeditated the crime is, which might warrant a higher sentence. In cases where the offence of cheating is intricate, for instance, there’s a lot of movement of the money in an attempt to cover the tracks. The more complex the case, it exhibits a high level of culpability.
Offences that affect the public security, the delivery of financial services and/or the integrity of the economic infrastructure or multiple victims, generally warrants a steeper sentence to deter future offenders. Certain circumstances of cheating may have an impact in Singapore’s economy and more often than not, there are usually more than a single victim.
It is worth noting that the abovementioned factors are only some but there are other aggravating factors such as if the offender cheated a vulnerable person or if the offence was against a public institution. Such factors would also attract a higher sentence.
Amongst all the mitigating factors, the most important and useful of all is restitution. The court is usually inclined to lower the sentence if the offender made restitution as a recourse to the victim. It is also important to note that whether full restitution was made or not, because it would impact the sentence.
Seeking Legal Advice
Please note that this article is purely informative and does not serve as legal advice. In the event that you or someone you know is facing similar charges, it is advisable to consult a lawyer for advice. Here are Populus Law Corporation, our team specialises in criminal law and will give you an all rounded approach in handling your case. Please do not hesitate to contact us.