SINGAPORE — After entering a relationship with a Nigerian scammer, a woman began helping him receive criminal proceeds in her bank account for a 5 per cent commission.
Soon after, Rohaiza Alap learned that her boyfriend’s contacts, who were also Nigerian scammers, offered commissions much higher than what Christian had been giving her. The 46-year-old Singaporean woman began assisting these contacts as well.
Over the course of four to five years, Rohaiza created bank accounts to receive and withdraw scam proceeds. She kept 10 per cent of the gains for herself, while handing the rest of the money to Nigerian contacts in Malaysia or Singapore. Most of those who deposited money into her accounts were victims of love scams.
Throughout her crime spree, Rohaiza recruited at least eight fellow money mules who provided their bank accounts for the same purposes. From 2013 to 2017, Rohaiza provided 25 bank accounts to receive a total sum of close to $1.4 million. She also helped to move more than $2 million out of Singapore.
Rohaiza was jailed for seven years and four weeks on Monday (2 August). She had earlier pleaded guilty to 14 charges under the Corruption, Drug, Trafficking and other serious crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act for providing or conspiring with others to provide a bank account to receive criminal proceeds, or for moving cash out of Singapore, or for disclosing prejudicial information.
She also pleaded guilty to one count of intentionally aiding a man to possess monies suspected to be fraudulently obtained, a charge under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act.
Another 43 charges of a similar nature were taken into consideration for her sentencing, with the prosecution seeking at least seven years and one month's jail for her.
In January 2013, Rohaiza met a Nigerian based in Malaysia known as “Christian”, who became her boyfriend. She knew that his “work” involved cheating people around the world.
From September 2013, she began to assist Christian in his illegal endeavours by receiving the ill-gotten gains in her bank account before passing them to him. She would receive 5 per cent of the proceeds.
Rohaiza later found out from her boyfriend’s fellow scammers that their commissions were much higher, so she decided to help them as well. There were at least six, with names such as “Chioma”, “Amy”, “Favour”, “Bishop”, “Ella” and “Princess Adanma”.
She received 10 per cent of the scam proceeds that she received in her bank accounts as commission, setting up five bank accounts in her name from October 2013 to June 2014.
On 20 August 2014, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the police received information about Rohaiza’s fraudulent fund transfer of US$10,953.86 (S$13,583.73) in her DBS account on 10 June 2014. CAD recorded statements from Rohaiza on 26 August 2014 and 27 August 2014 and advised her against working with the scammers.
Despite the advice, Rohaiza continued helping the scammers.
She also recruited others, including her former sister-in-law, her husband, her aunt, and her husband's nephew, promising them a portion of her commission as part of their payment.
Around $1,352,446.95 of criminal proceeds were laundered through the 25 bank accounts, belonging either to her or her accomplices.
Rohaiza claimed that she earned about $10,000 per week when she was receiving her 10 per cent commission. As of 2018, she had earned over $100,000.
The CAD seized a total of $124,190.02 between 25 September 2014 and 22 November 2017.
In a joint press release on the case, the Attorney-General's Chambers and the police said that scam cases remain a major crime concern.
The total number of scam cases reported increased by 65.1 per cent to 15,756 cases in 2020, from 9,545 cases in 2019, the release added, noting that scam cases made up 42.1 per cent of overall crimes last year.
"Scams perpetrated from overseas are of particular concern because 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 proceeds of crime," the release stated.
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