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Crime

Zaihan Mohamed Yusof
Friday, Jul 4, 2014

Crime

A mule for love

The New Paper | Zaihan Mohamed Yusof | Friday, Jul 4, 2014

She had never met "Shawn", but Nani Terisiawati said she was so much in love, she trusted him.

Unknown to the 37-year-old Indonesian, who holds permanent residency here, Shawn, a stranger she met through a dating application on Aug 9, 2012, was merely setting her up.

He courted Nani then used her to launder $120,000 cash in stolen money in November 2012.

Nani is not the only person to end up helping syndicates launder some $31.5 million last year.

Police figures show that last year, there was a spike for this type of white collar crime.

In a reply to The New Paper, a police spokesman said that in 2013, there were 212 cases of dirty money being fraudulently transferred from bank accounts of victims overseas to money mules here.

The police spokesman said: "Most of the monies were transferred out of Singapore on the same day.

"Police managed to recover about 18 per cent of the fraudulently transferred funds so far."

In 2012, there were 93 reported cases involving $24.6 million.

And all too often, it is the money mules like Nani who are arrested. 

On June 26, Nani was sentenced to nine months in jail for dishonestly receiving stolen property and transferring benefits of criminal conduct.

LOVING THE WRONG PERSON

In her mitigation plea, her lawyer said that Nani, who was described in court as "naive and silly", had made the mistake of "falling in love with the wrong person".

She had believed that Shawn, supposedly a divorce living in Sarawak, Malaysia, was genuinely interested in her.

They had met on OkCupid and exchanged phone numbers. He told Nani he was working in Sarawak for "some oil project."

Two months into their relationship, Shawn asked Nani to set up a bank account in Singapore for his US company to transfer money to.

The money wired was supposedly to be used to pay Shawn's workers in Malaysia.

Nani doubted Shawn's intentions and had questioned him about the need to transfer the money into her account.

She thought it would make more sense to transfer the money into a Malaysian bank account.

Shawn told her that it would take too long to transfer the money from the US to Malaysia.

In the end, Nani complied with Shawn's request by setting up a new bank account on Oct 16, 2012.

About a month later, Nani received a sum of US$98,500 (S$119,600).

On the same day, Nani withdrew $110,000 in cash, as instructed by Shawn by SMS. She handed the cash to a woman at a taxi stand at Wisma Atria.

Later, Nani transferred $9,000 to Shawn and left the remaining $600 untouched.

MONEY STOLEN OVERSEAS

Investigations revealed that the money Nani had received was stolen from an oil and gas company based in the US.

The company had its e-mail system hacked and an unknown person fraudulently made three wire transfers totalling US$598,000 ($746,000) into bank accounts in Singapore.

The police said that in 2012 and 2013, 24 money mules were convicted for their roles of receiving or transferring criminal proceeds, the majority of them being Singaporeans.

These money mules have been sentenced to jail terms of between two months and 24 months.

Nani has lost more than her freedom.

Her lawyer told the court that although she did not profit from this incident, she has lost her job and her apartment lease was terminated.

While in custody, her father died.

She now hopes her permanent residence status here is not revoked.

BY THE NUMBERS

$31.5m

The amount of dirty money transferred to bank accounts here last year in 212 reported cases, an increase from $24.6m and 93 reported cases in 2012.


This article was first published on July 2, 2014.
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