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Former NTU Student’s Decade-Long Deception Unravels: Faked Degree Leads to Conviction and Potential Jail Time

The pressure at university can be overwhelming. Some might even entertain the notion of dropping out and getting a counterfeit degree for a fraction of time and effort.

A Nanyang Technological University (NTU) dropout, Fonseka Wannerichega Hema Rajini, forged a bachelor’s degree in engineering certificate from NTU. Between the years 2005 and 2021, she managed to secure employment with prestigious companies such as Walt Disney, drawing a monthly salary of $7,884.

Her fraudulent actions ultimately caught up with her and the 44-year-old woman was convicted on two counts of cheating and one count of forgery.

How She Acquired the Fake Degree

In 2005, Fonseka designed the fake NTU certificate using a template she found online. The certificate deceptively claimed she had obtained a bachelor’s degree in engineering with third-class honours in 2004.

She printed the certificate on a cardstock paper and laminated it before using it to apply for jobs.

Fonseka had actually dropped out of NTU in 2004 and her highest educational qualification is her GCE ‘A’ levels certificate.

Her Period of Successful Employment

In 2005, she worked as an assistant managing editor at Marshall Cavendish earning a monthly salary of $4,200. From November 2012 to May 2013, she became an acquisition associate but earned the same salary.

In July 2015, she worked at Scholastic Education International, a publisher and distributor of children’s books and educational materials. She was an assistant managing editor earning $4,300 per month. In 2016, she was promoted to managing editor and earned $4,600 per month. She was, however, terminated in February 2017 due to unsatisfactory work performance.

The Downfall

In June 2021, she was hired at The Walt Disney Company in Southeast Asia as a learning editor in the publishing department. She earned a monthly salary of $7,884, including a transport allowance of $1,084.

The facade crumbled when Walt Disney sent her certificate to be validated by a third-party vendor specialising in background checks.

The certificate was sent to NTU to be validated and they found that she withdrew from the university and was not granted a degree or certificate. Following the background check, Fonseka resigned in December 2021. NTU subsequently lodged a police report in October 2021.

Fonseka now faces the possibility of a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine for cheating, and an additional sentence of up to seven years plus a fine for forgery. Her sentencing is scheduled for 6 December 2023.

If you’ve come across Yeoh Keng Swee’s case, you’ll know that Fonseka’s case is not necessarily uncommon.

If you thought she was daring enough for forcing a NTU degree, think again.

This 55-year-old man forged multiple education certificates such as a Business Administration degree, a Bachelor of Accountancy degree from NTU, even a GCE ‘O’ Level certificate and more. (Yes, more…)

He held various positions in the many companies he worked at from 2009-2021 but was ultimately caught when NTU lodged a police report against him in 2021 for forgery. He was ultimately sentenced to jail for 15 months.

All that to say, stay in school kids and maybe don’t forge an NTU degree.

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