Money mule who received almost half a million in stolen cash jailed for 20 months

Lucia Lomibao Luna was jailed for 20 months on Nov 2, 2015.
Lucia Lomibao Luna was jailed for 20 months on Nov 2, 2015.PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A 37-year-old woman who worked as a money mule and received almost half a million dollars in stolen money last year was jailed for 20 months on Monday (Nov 2).

Lucia Lomibao Luna pleaded guilty to five counts of attempting to receive stolen property, receiving stolen property and transferring the benefits of criminal conduct.

Another nine charges were taken into consideration.

The court heard that in May last year, Lucia, then an S-pass holder working as an assistant supervisor with Big City Coffee House, got to know a man called "Ricardo" on the social networking platform www.tagged.com.

Ricardo told Lucia, a Filipino, that he had an income opportunity for her. The job entailed picking up sums of cash from different agents at various locations, and handing them over to a "money changer" known as "S.K".

There would be a commission of $500 to $1,000 for each completed transaction.

Despite not knowing who Ricardo was, or why there was a need for a third party to transfer the money between the parties, Lucia started doing so on Ricardo's instructions between June and July last year.

She used the pseudonym "Mary" when meeting with the agents and the money changer, and handled sums ranging from $18,000 to $111,000.

She received a total of $459,700.

On July 21 last year, she was arrested by officers from the Commercial Affairs Department during a sting operation, while attempting to receive $75,000 from one agent to transfer to S.K.

According to court documents, the modus operandi for Ricardo's operation was to send an e-mail from a hacked e-mail account, instructing banks to transfer company or personal funds to agents' bank accounts.

Lucia's jail sentence was backdated to Aug 19 this year, when she was first remanded.

For dishonestly receiving or retaining stolen property, she could have been jailed for up to five years and fined.

For converting or transferring property which represents the benefits from criminal conduct, she could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined up to $500,000.