The District Court in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island. Photo: Google Maps
The District Court in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island. Photo: Google Maps

A 29-year-old woman pleaded guilty in Hong Kong’s District Court on Wednesday to five charges including deception and using false instruments after doctoring her degree and using a forged certificate to get a job at a law firm.

Cheung Ka-ling, who is also known as Cheung Ka-hei, was also charged with obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, Apple Daily reported.

The court heard that Cheung graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s (CUHK) Juris Doctor program in 2013. The transcript showed she had a GPA of 2.49, failed the subject of land law and a remark showed she received disciplinary action for misconduct.

On Aug. 2, 2013, Cheung went to the Home Affairs Enquiry Center to file her university transcript, but it showed a GPA of 3.46, no failed subject and no remark was included.

On Aug. 26, Cheung applied for the Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (PCLL) program at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) with the forged transcript.

She received an offer from HKU and started her two-year part-time course. However, she failed the examination in the first year and failed again in 2015 after retaking the exam.

In August 2015, Cheung withdrew from the program. She did not finish the PCLL program and HKU did not issue any certificate to her.

The court heard that in June 2015, Cheung applied to be a trainee solicitor placement at Leung Pansy Tang & Chua via email and attached the affirmation of the academic transcript of the CUHK’s Judis Doctor program.

Cheung was given the job. She later presented the PCLL certificate, which she bought for HK$1,000 (US$127) from a mainland website. The deception came to light when Cheung submitted an application to be a trainee solicitor to the Law Society of Hong Kong.

Staff of the law association discovered Cheung had not passed the PCLL exam. Staff then checked her credentials with the two universities and discovered she had lied.

Cheung turned herself in to police. Her defense lawyer pleaded for leniency, saying Cheung’s family was poor but she studied very hard and wanted to become a lawyer since she was young. Cheung was suffering from depression when she committed the crime and now regretted what she had done.