Teen allegedly opened bank account and allowed scammers to use it to launder almost $250k

Samuel Devaraj
The Straits Times
March 10, 2023

A teenager is said to have opened a bank account and allowed others to use it after reading on messaging platform Telegram about a cash loan being offered in exchange for bank account details.

The UOB account he opened was allegedly used by scam syndicates to launder criminal proceeds of more than $249,000.

On Friday, Mathana Raaj Singh Balbir Singh, 19, was charged with one count of cheating and one count of abetting an unknown person to secure unauthorised access to a bank’s computer system.

The police said he had responded to the Telegram message in May 2022.

Court documents said that in the same month, he engaged in a conspiracy to cheat UOB by deceiving the bank into believing that he was the sole operator of the bank account that he was opening.

He then allegedly gave his Internet banking login credentials to an unknown person for the purpose of effecting transactions on the UOB computer system without authorisation.

On Friday, Singh indicated his intention to apply for legal aid, and he will return to court on April 6.

If found guilty of cheating, he can be jailed for up to three years, fined or both.

He can be jailed for up to two years, fined up to $5,000, or both if he is found guilty of abetting an unknown person to secure unauthorised access to a bank’s computer system.

In a written reply to Parliament in February, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam had said the Ministry of Home Affairs was looking into amending laws to address difficulties in proving the intent of money mules to facilitate scams.

He said laws needed to be enhanced to make it easier to detect money laundering offences in such scam cases.

The police said they take a serious stance against anyone who may be involved in scams, and perpetrators will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

“To avoid being an accomplice in these crimes, members of the public should always reject seemingly attractive easy cash loan and money-making opportunities promising fast and easy payouts for the use of their Singpass accounts or bank accounts, or for allowing their personal accounts to be used to receive and transfer money for others,” the police said.

“Remember that you will be held accountable if these are linked to crimes.”

For more information on scams, the police advised members of the public to visit scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline on 1800-722-6688.

Anyone with information on such scams can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit it at police.gov.sg/iwitness.

All information will be kept strictly confidential, police said.

The Straits Times

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