Two sisters who helped scammers launder nearly $1 million given reformative training

SINGAPORE - A pair of sisters who helped fraudsters launder almost $1 million from victims of job and dating scams have each been given a year of reformative training after they failed to cooperate with a probation officer.

Probation suitability reports were called for the sisters, Nur Syafiqah Mohamad Awal, 20, and Nur Atiqah Mohamad Awal, 19, after they were convicted on March 8 of their role in the scams.

But the probation officer could not make the report as they repeatedly did not attend sessions and follow the officer's instructions, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Jeremy Bin told the court on Tuesday (May 24).

He said of Atiqah: "She demonstrated nonchalance and a complete disregard for the court's attempt to give her a chance at rehabilitation and reformation."

The DPP noted that the sisters' mother had also failed to comply with the probation officer, and given their lack of familial supervision, he said the effect of probation would be limited.

As the sisters were found to be unsuitable for probation, they were given reformative training, which is a rehabilitative sentencing option for young offenders.

Offenders given reformative training are detained in a centre and made to follow a strict regimen that can include foot drills and counselling.

Atiqah was visibly upset during the court hearing on Tuesday and said she regrets her actions and asked for a chance to change.

Syafiqah told the court she was pregnant.

The sisters were convicted over their role in a scam which involved at least 39 victims who reported being scammed to the police between December 2020 and August 2021.

The court heard then that the victims had come across job offers on social media platforms or via SMSes and were told to buy items online for which they were promised a commission.

In other cases, the scammers befriended victims on dating apps and later got them to transfer large sums of money for various reasons.

The girls' mother, Ms Siti Aidah Abdullah, met two men known only as Raymond and Kelvin on the online dating app Tagged between November and December 2020.

They got Ms Siti, 51, to open bank accounts in her name and send the linked debit cards to them, but she did not know how to do so and asked her daughters for help.

Ms Siti's case is pending.

Syafiqah and Atiqah directly contacted Raymond and Kelvin and helped them apply for and send debit cards to Malaysian addresses in exchange for payment.

They deleted their WhatsApp conversation histories at the request of the scammers.

Using accounts opened by Syafiqah, the fraudsters transferred up to $344,000 at a time and paid her $2,050 in total.

On one occasion, Syafiqah dishonestly kept around $200,000 that did not belong to her. She spent $9,000 on personal expenses like clothes and staycations.

When Kelvin and Raymond barred her from working for them, Syafiqah turned to another contact, Mohamed Yusri Arepen, who was involved in a similar money laundering ploy.

She helped the 40-year-old, who has a money laundering charge pending, launder around $111,500 for $300 in payment.

For helping Raymond, Atiqah profited at least $200.

In total, the sisters helped to launder almost $1 million across several transactions.

It was not mentioned if any of the money had been recovered.

For money laundering, offenders can be fined up to $500,000, jailed for up to 10 years or both.

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