Woman who helped scammers move over $2m out of Singapore jailed for more than 7 years

SINGAPORE -A woman helped Nigerian scammers move more than $2 million out of Singapore, providing them with over 20 bank accounts to receive their criminal proceeds.

Rohaiza Alap, 46, even recruited other people to act as money mules.

She was jailed for seven years and four weeks on Monday (Aug 2). She had pleaded guilty last month to 15 charges, for offences committed between 2014 and 2017. These included eight of conspiring with others to provide bank accounts to receive criminal proceeds.

Another 43 charges were taken into consideration by Senior District Judge Ong Hian Sun.

In a joint statement on Monday, the police and the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said Rohaiza's case involved a money-mule syndicate, with an organised and sophisticated network acting as a professional money-laundering group.

The money came from various scams perpetrated by a group of Nigerians based in Malaysia, according to court documents.

These included love scams in Singapore and business e-mail scams in other countries.

Rohaiza began helping one of the scammers in September 2013, receiving scam proceeds through her bank accounts and later withdrawing the monies to pass to him. She had met him in January that year.

She later assisted other scammers, some of whom she got to know through Facebook.

The scammers would inform her in advance about the receipt of a sum of money. Once she received it in her bank account, she would withdraw the money and take a cut of it.

Rohaiza would then hand the remaining sum to the scammers in Malaysia or to individuals in Singapore, on their instructions.

Court documents state that Rohaiza was investigated by the police in 2014 and had some of her other accounts seized.

But she continued with her offences and even set up two more bank accounts.

Rohaiza also recruited seven individuals for her operation.

One of them, Rohaizad Mahat, was sentenced in December 2019 to seven months' jail for his involvement. The rest have not been dealt with yet.

Rohaiza would coordinate with them to receive the scam proceeds in their bank accounts and to transfer the monies back to the scammers. Both she and these others who provided bank accounts would take a cut from the proceeds.

Court documents state that some of the people she recruited would also use the bank accounts of their companies to receive the monies.

They state that she provided a total of 25 bank accounts to receive criminal proceeds, laundering over $1.35 million through them.

Some of these accounts belonged to R & C Trading Enterprise, a business in which she was the sole proprietor

In all, Rohaiza helped the scammers move over $2 million out of Singapore, said AGC and the police.

About $124,000 of the scam proceeds were seized by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) between Sept 25, 2014 and Nov 22, 2017.

Court documents state that Rohaiza also sought to compromise police investigations by instructing another money mule, Aminorindah Haeruman, to lie to the CAD that the latter had no knowledge of the monies received in her bank accounts.

On Monday, the court granted Rohaiza's request to defer her sentence to Sept 15, so that she can complete her Covid-19 vaccination and settle her business affairs.

In their statement on Monday, the police and the AGC said scams perpetrated from overseas are of particular concern as "it is difficult and nearly impossible" to recover monies once they are transferred out of Singapore.

This is further compounded when scams are enabled by individuals who allow their bank accounts to be used by scammers to receive monies, hide their tracks and launder the criminal proceeds, the agencies added.

"We will continue to work together to deter offenders from using Singapore's financial system as a refuge or conduit for illicit funds," they said.