SINGAPORE: A 68-year-old man will be charged in court on Friday (Jun 10) after he allegedly cheated three local banks into opening accounts in his name, on the belief that the accounts would be used by him.
The man then went on to enable criminals to use these accounts to launder the proceeds from Internet love scams, in which victims lost more than S$20,000.
The man was also charged for allegedly abetting an unknown person to secure unauthorised access to the banks’ computer systems, said the police on Thursday. He did so by providing the Personal Identification Number (PIN) of ATM cards.
“The bank accounts were used by criminals to launder proceeds of crime derived from three reported cases of Internet love scams,” they added.
Police investigations revealed that the suspect had befriended an unknown person over social media platforms. This online persona then asked the man to help receive funds in Singapore for business purposes.
In order to cheat three local banks into opening accounts in his name, the man deceived the banks into believing that he was the person using these accounts.
The man then mailed the bank ATM cards to an address in Malaysia and provided the PIN to the person he befriended online.
INTERNET LOVE SCAMS
Three people fell prey to love scams after they met their supposed “online lovers” on Facebook or Instagram.
“Over time, the victims transferred a total amounting to S$20,300, at the request of their online lovers, for a variety of purposes,” said the police.
“Some money was transferred purportedly to help ease cashflow problems; money was also transferred on the pretext of paying for fees needed to release parcels sent by their online lovers.”
Those found guilty of conspiring to cheat a bank into opening a bank account face up to three years in jail, a fine, or both.
For abetting persons to secure unauthorised access to a bank’s computer system, first-time offenders face a fine of up to S$5,000, up to two years’ jail, or both.
The police said they take a serious stance against anyone involved in facilitating money laundering, and perpetrators will be dealt with in accordance with the law.
“To avoid becoming involved in money laundering activities, members of the public should always reject requests to share the use of their banking facilities to receive and transfer funds, as well as guard against disclosing their Singpass login details which can be misused for many transactions,” they added.
Those who receive or are asked to receive funds from unknown or dubious sources may contact the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800-722-6688.
Members of the public with information on such scams may call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000 or submit information online.