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Money mule from India-based money-laundering syndicate with Canadian victims jailed in Singapore

Money mule from India-based money-laundering syndicate with Canadian victims jailed in Singapore

File photo of Singapore dollars. (File photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: A man who came to Singapore from India to pursue a diploma was roped into a money-making scheme by a flatmate that turned out to be a money-laundering chain by a cross-border syndicate targeting victims in Canada.

Indian national Jaspreet Singh, 26, was sentenced to six months' jail on Thursday (Dec 23). He pleaded guilty to a charge each of conspiring to carry on the business of an unlicensed payment service and of obstructing justice by deleting and exiting a WhatsApp chat group with his co-conspirators.

The court heard that Singh had eight accomplices, all male or female Indian nationals in their 20s. Another two unidentified accomplices are believed to be based in India, where they operate a money-laundering syndicate.

Singh arrived in Singapore in September 2019 to pursue a diploma in hospitality and tourism management. He lived in a rented flat in Bukit Purmei Road with four of his co-accused.

A year after he arrived in Singapore, one of Singh's flatmates introduced him to a money-making scheme, where he could earn money by providing his bank account for the receipt of overseas funds.

Although he suspected that such an agreement was illegal, he was promised a commission and he agreed.

Singh was added to a WhatsApp chat group with the other accomplices, which was used to coordinate money-laundering activities and ensure that fund transfers were received into various bank accounts.

The funds would then be withdrawn and handed over to other individuals further down the laundering chain, court documents stated.

Between Sep 2, 2020 and Sep 5, 2020, Singh provided a cross-border money transfer service, receiving a total of three inward transfers into his DBS Multiplier Account amounting to S$60,238.

He also facilitated 14 outward transfers of S$60,200. This were in the form of transfers to his accomplices or unidentified individuals and cash withdrawals made either by himself or his accomplices to circumvent daily withdrawal limits.

In exchange, Singh received a commission of about S$1,900.

Two Canadian men fell victim to scams related to the money laundering. The first man filed a police report with his police authority in Ontario, Canada, on Sep 14, 2020.

He said he was deceived into transferring a total of C$66,390 (S$70,950) between Sep 3 and Sep 10, on the premise that he was returning excess refunds wrongly transferred to him for a terminated computer virus protection subscription service.

A total of S$68,350 had been transferred into a DBS account and an OCBC account belonging to two of Singh's accomplices.

The second Canadian man filed an online report with the Singapore Police Force on Sep 16, 2020, saying he had been cheated into transferring C$12,200 on Sep 10 to a DBS bank account.

The same premise was given to him - that he should return excess refunds wrongly transferred to him for a terminated computer virus protection subscription service.

About S$12,525 was transferred to the DBS account held by Singh's accomplice.

The Commercial Affairs Department began investigations and found that Singh's bank account was also implicated in the offences.

On Sep 22, 2020, CAD officers raided Singh's rented flat. While he was being raided, Singh deleted the WhatsApp chat group used to coordinate the group's money-laundering activities and exited it.

The deleted information could not be recovered by CAD.

In mitigation, Singh's lawyer said he was the youngest child in his family and had come to Singapore to study and in hopes of getting a higher-paying job.

Although he is the youngest, he is the sole breadwinner of the family, as his father stopped working after injuring his leg and his mother is a housewife. He was acquainted with the wrong company and foolishly agreed to allow his account to be used for illegitimate activities, said the lawyer.

Singh is the fourth of the group to be dealt with. The other three were also Indian nationals who had come to Singapore to pursue diplomas.

Mukherjee Sukanya, 24, pleaded guilty in November and was sentenced to 18 months' jail, while Tenzing Ugyen Lama Sherpa, 23, was given 40 months' jail earlier this month.

Tenzing was one of the coordinators of the Singapore branch of the criminal syndicate, facilitating almost S$205,000 in transfers with his bank account, of which S$37,795 was traceable to criminal proceeds of the money-laundering syndicate. 

Tirth Singh, 22, was given six months' jail earlier this month, and the other cases are pending.

Source: CNA/ll(zl)


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