Money mule jailed for four years, 10 months

Looi Yu Chong, 20, who received RM1,500 for his role in the scam, was arrested by officers from the Royal Malaysian Police on Jan 16, 2018.
Looi Yu Chong, 20, who received RM1,500 for his role in the scam, was arrested by officers from the Royal Malaysian Police on Jan 16, 2018.PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

A money mule for an international syndicate, linked to a cheating case involving more than $5 million, came to Singapore twice in 2017 to collect over $1 million of the cash.

Looi Yu Chong then returned to his native Malaysia but was brought back here after Malaysian police arrested him on Jan 16 last year.

On Friday, District Judge Victor Yeo said the level of harm in Looi's case was "severe" and sentenced the 21-year-old to four years and 10 months' jail.

Looi pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of dealing with the benefits of criminal activities totalling more than $655,000. A second similar charge involving $500,000 was considered during sentencing.

Others connected to the syndicate took the remaining sum of almost $4 million. Court documents did not reveal their identities.

On Nov 7, 2017, a 58-year-old Singaporean retiree received a phone call from someone purportedly from "Chinatown police station" who told her she was a suspect in a criminal case. She was later told that the investigation would last seven days and that she would eventually be given documents to sign stating she was "not guilty".

Pretending to be a police officer, a syndicate member told her to give him the details of her bank accounts and she complied. On 11 occasions, he told her to make withdrawals and deliver the cash to different people purportedly from the Chinese government.

 
 

He told her that by handing over the money, she would be assisting the police in a money laundering probe. The retiree complied out of fear and handed cash totalling over $5 million to an unknown man and a Singaporean woman, who was also duped by the syndicate.

The woman, a 58-year-old sales promoter, was told she too was suspected of being involved in criminal activities. Syndicate members told her that to assist in investigations, she had to collect cash from strangers and deliver it to others.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Suhas Malhotra said Looi received more than $1 million of the retiree's money from the sales promoter in Singapore on Nov 16 and 17, 2017. Looi received RM1,500 (S$490) for his role as a money mule.

DPP Malhotra urged Judge Yeo to sentence Looi to 5 1/2 years' jail. Defence lawyer John Koh pleaded for his client to be sentenced to between 45 and 49 months' jail. He said Looi was a "mere foot soldier" and was only 20 when he committed the offence. Looi has not made any restitution.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 27, 2019, with the headline 'Money mule jailed for four years, 10 months'. Print Edition | Subscribe