Woman money mule jailed for money laundering offences

SINGAPORE - A woman, who received stolen funds of nearly $298,000 and transferred and used benefits of criminal conduct, was jailed for 26 months on Wednesday.

Administrative coordinator and receptionist Saniyah Kumari, 50, who faced 13 charges, pleaded guilty to six counts in a district court. The court heard that she befriended a person who identified himself as Steve Smith through a social networking website in September 2012. Steve Smith claimed to be an American stationed in Sarawak, Malaysia, for a construction project.

Despite having only known Steve Smith online for a short period of time, she agreed to receive money for him into her bank account and then transfer the money to an unknown person in Singapore.

Steve Smith told her he needed a bank account in Singapore to receive the money and needed her help. She was allowed to keep $4,139 from the money received as a commission for receiving and transmitting the funds received.

Some time in February last year, she befriended another person who identified himself as Christopher Stutt through the same website. Christopher Stutt claimed to be an American stationed in Kuala Lumpur, working on a condominium building project.

Saniyah agreed to receive money in her bank account and to transfer the money to an unknown person in Singapore after their brief online interaction. Chrsitopher Stutt claimed he had problems receiving the funds in Malaysia and needed the funds urgently to pay his workers there.

She provided her bank account details and was allowed to keep $3,067 from the sum received as a commission for her help. She used the commission received to pay her debts and expenses. None of the sums involved has been recovered.

Saniyah, a divorcee with grown-up children, could have been jailed for up to five years and/or fined for receiving stolen money. For transferring property which represented her benefits from criminal conduct, the maximum penalty is a $500,00 fine and seven years' jail.