A Singaporean woman has been charged with 21 counts of cheating, for posing as different individuals, tricking 18 doctors in Jurong and Bukit Batok polyclinics into administering about S$500 worth of cough medication to her.

Eileen Siak, 33, has a codeine dependency and pleaded guilty to seven counts on 17 November involving S$265 worth of medication. The other 14 charges involving S$260 will be taken into consideration during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Vadivalagan Shanmuga said that Siak who previously worked in Health and Lifestyle as an accounts manager between 2009 and 2011, exploited a list of her prior company's customers' personal particulars such as their NRIC numbers and contact details. She transferred the list to her private email folder instead of storing it on the company's email account and did not delete them when she left the firm.

Attending appointments under false identities

Between 23 April 2014 and 4 March 2015, she visited clinics regularly, almost on a daily basis to get her supply of cough syrup. Siak feared that clinics might stop providing her the medication and decided to use the personal particulars of the individuals in the aforementioned list.

Appointments were made with polyclinics using her mobile phone, with the personal details of an individual off the list, of which she would then attend the appointment under a false identity of the person under whose name she had registered.

Even if she was not having a cough, she would see the attending doctors to get a prescription, of which she initially paid for. Subsequently however, she began collecting the medication from the dispensing counter of the clinics and walk off without paying for them. She has taken at least S$524 worth of medication this way.

Ms. Serene Foo Ai Buay, a senior manager at National Healthcare Group Polyclinics, who manages nine polyclinics in Singapore has caught onto Siak's act - Ms. Foo noticed that someone had been booking appointments with various polyclinics by calling the hotline with the same mobile phone number, but the particulars were different each time. She subsequently lodged a police report on March 2015.

Judge shows mercy by ordering a MTO

Siak was represented by Josephus Tan, who said that his client, a chemical engineering graduate has been suffering from codeine dependency since June 2013 and has been seeking help from a doctor at the Institute of Mental Health to manage her dependency. She was also suffering from post-natal depression.

Only in recent months, had she been visiting private family clinics every other day to get her dose of codeine-based medication, he said.

He added that Siak only needed a "timely and targeted medical intervention/assistance" to rehabilitate and lead a proper life.

In response, District Judge Shawn Ho called for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO) suitability report and pushed her sentencing date to the 13th of January next year.

Under MTO, offenders are required to attend compulsory treatment sessions with psychiatrists assigned by the Ministry of Health and Institute of Mental Health. The maximum punishment for cheating is a three-year jail-term and a fine. MIMS

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