Jail for ex-bank employee who was targeted by scammers and misappropriated over $600k

SINGAPORE - In a bid to ease her financial woes, a supervisor in a bank reached out to what she thought was a legitimate moneylender to borrow $25,000, when it was, in fact, a front for scammers.

They told her there were charges such as administrative fees and, in her desperation to receive the loan, she decided to misappropriate money entrusted to her at her workplace to pay them.

Nurashikeen Sinin was then working at the limited purpose branch of P.T. Bank Negara Indonesia at City Plaza shopping centre in Geylang Road.

The bank also offered remittance services to Indonesia.

She took more than $600,000 from Oct 13, 2020, to Nov 12, 2020, and transferred it to the scammers. She thought that the money would be returned to her, the court heard.

The bank later received a tip-off and she came clean about her offence to its head of customer service on Nov 13 that year. She was dismissed the next day. Nurashikeen, who is an undischarged bankrupt, has made no restitution and none of the cash was recovered.

The 38-year-old Singaporean was on Wednesday (Jan 5) sentenced to four years' jail after she pleaded guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust.

District Judge Marvin Bay said: "While I recognise that Ms Nurashikeen's naivete and desperation likely played a significant role in the misappropriation (of the money)... deterrence must be the most important consideration here."

She joined the bank as a temporary staff member in 2001 and was given a permanent role as a customer service assistant two years later.

She later became a supervisor, earning $4,200 a month from January 2020.

As part of her job, she was entrusted to place cash which tellers had handed her into a vault.

The court heard that Nurashikeen was saddled with debts of more than $83,000 and a portion was obtained from licensed moneylenders.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Benjamin Samynathan said: "In order to lessen her financial burden, the accused decided to turn to another moneylender for assistance. She conducted online searches and found a purported moneylender advertising their services via the URL 'abicredit.com'.

"Unknown to the accused, the URL was operated by a scammer. It was therefore not operated by the registered entity named 'ABI Credit Private Limited' which operated a separate URL at 'abicredit.sg'."

On Oct 12, 2020, Nurashikeen contacted abicredit.com and was put in touch with a "Danny" who told her to pay an administrative fee of $2,500 before it could disburse a loan.

She complied but did not receive the money in her bank account.

The scammers later asked her to pay more "fees" to secure the loan.

The DPP said: "Given the monies that she had sunk into the purported loan application, her increasing desperation, and her misplaced belief that the monies would be returned to her, the accused continued to misappropriate cash from the (bank)."

Nurashikeen would leave her workplace with the money misappropriated in a plain envelope before depositing it into her own bank account.

After that, she would transfer the cash to the scammer-designated bank accounts. She forged 22 cash balance sheets to cover her tracks.

After she was sacked, Nurashikeen lodged a police report against the scammers on Nov 19, 2020, but the outcome was not disclosed in court documents.

The DPP said by the time the relevant bank accounts were frozen, the money had been transferred to other unknown accounts.

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