Money mule jailed for 12 months

Even though she met the man online only four days earlier, a woman agreed to let him use her bank account to receive more than $100,000 from his clients.

A district court heard that all Lye Kim Fah knew was that "Allen Bruce'' said he was a 50-year-old widower and a businessman dealing in jewellery in London. Lye, 55, was jailed for 12 months yesterdayafter admitting to acquiring $117,122 in her account when she had reasonable grounds to believe that the sum directly represented another person's benefits from criminal conduct.

Two other charges - removing property from jurisdiction and transferring money into her account - were considered in her sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Chin said that on Dec 5, 2012 - four days after she had come to know him on a website - "Allen'' asked her to receive money from his client in her bank account on his behalf.

He claimed he would collect it from her when he visited her in Singapore. Despite feeling "shocked'' and a sense of "unease'' at his request, she agreed to help and gave him her account details.

Even though "Allen'' told her that he would be sending £40,000 (S$72,400), she eventually received US$96,500 (S$117,000) in her POSB account. She told him that she received $110,000. She subsequently withdrew $17,000 cash, and deposited $15,000 of it into another of her accounts. She spent the remaining $2,000 on shopping.

Acting on his instructions, she remitted $100,000 from her POSB account to a Hong Leong Bank account in Malaysia on Dec 17, 2012.

On Dec 11 that year, VP Bank (Singapore) received an e-mail, purportedly sent by Hong Kong-based businessman Alexandre Robert Dudley Marie De Lesseps, to transfer US$96,500 into Lye's POSB account.

Investigations showed Mr De Lesseps had never sent the e-mail. He lodged a police report over the unauthorised transfer on Jan 3, 2013.

DPP Chin said any reasonable person in Lye's position would not have trusted "Allen'' and would have found that the arrangement made no sense.

Lye was unsure of his identity and had felt unease helping him receive the money, the court heard. She also had suspicions after she received a sum of money that was different from what was previously told to her. But she still acted on "Allen's'' instructions and remitted the $100,000.

The Commercial Affairs Department has recovered $14,736 from Lye's POSB account.

She could have been fined up to $500,000 and/or jailed for up to five years under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 06, 2016, with the headline 'Money mule jailed for 12 months'. Print Edition | Subscribe