Woman roped in her 3 children to help launder nearly $1.6m for scammers she met on dating platform

Shaffiq Alkhatib
The Straits Times
April 5, 2023

A woman and her adult son were sentenced to jail on Wednesday for providing bank accounts used to launder money for scammers.

Between the end of 2020 and May 2021, Siti Aidah Abdullah, 52, roped in three of her children – the son and two daughters – to provide multiple bank accounts to two “boyfriends” she met on a dating platform. She also asked her children to address the men as “daddy”.

The men, known in court documents only as Raymond and Kelvin, promised her $200 per bank account.

In all, Siti and her children gave control of 27 bank accounts to Raymond and Kelvin, and 20 of them were used to receive the proceeds of various scams.

Between December 2020 and May 2021, nearly $2.9 million was received in the 20 bank accounts. Of this amount, nearly $1.6 million was traced to criminal proceeds.

Siti, who told investigators that she had never met Raymond and Kelvin, was sentenced to six years’ jail on Wednesday after she pleaded guilty to 12 counts of money-laundering involving more than $1.4 million.

Eight other charges linked to the remaining amount were considered during sentencing.

Her son, Mohamad Riduan Mohamad Awal, 24, who pleaded guilty to a money-laundering charge involving $5,540, was sentenced on Wednesday to three months’ jail.

Siti received around $1,600 for providing the bank accounts, while Riduan received some $600 over his role in the offence.

They were each released on personal bond of $500 on Wednesday and are expected to surrender themselves at the State Courts on April 28 to begin serving their sentences.

Siti’s two daughters – Nur Syafiqah Mohamad Awal, 20, and Nur Atiqah Mohamad Awal, 19 – were ordered in 2022 to undergo reformative training for a year.

Offenders given reformative training are detained in a centre and made to follow a strict regimen that can include foot drills and counselling.

Siti and her children have not made any restitution. Court documents did not disclose information about her children’s father.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Matthew Choo said: “Mothers have a responsibility to raise their children to be respectable and productive members of society.

“Regrettably, (Siti) introduced three of her children... to a criminal enterprise for monetary reward. Instead of raising them to be upstanding citizens, (she) has led them down the path of criminality.”

Her children had opened the bank accounts and duplicated debit cards. They would then give Siti the debit cards, which she sent to Raymond and Kelvin in Malaysia via courier.

“Voluminous overseas cash withdrawals... would be performed on these accounts,” said the DPP.

It all started between November and December 2020, when Siti sought out individuals on dating mobile apps, telling them about her family’s financial woes in the hope of gaining their sympathy.

Siti would then ask for money and promised to help the individuals in return.

She got to know Kelvin and Raymond on a platform called Tagged. Separately, they promised to give her money in exchange for bank accounts.

Siti later gave control of multiple bank accounts to Raymond, which were then used to receive the proceeds of crimes including a love scam.

She introduced Syafiqah to Raymond in December 2020.

DPP Choo told the court: “Syafiqah communicated directly with Raymond. (She) gave control of nine bank accounts to (him) and duplicated debit cards with a promise of monetary reward.

“Some of the debit cards were then delivered to Raymond via courier through (Siti).”

Syafiqah took part in similar arrangement with Kelvin after Siti introduced them in May 2021.

Siti also introduced Atiqah and Riduan to Raymond in 2021.

Between December 2020 and May 2021, police received at least 50 reports for multiple people, stating that they were scam victims.

The ill-gotten gains were later traced to bank accounts belonging to Siti and her three children.

This article has been edited for accuracy.

The Straits Times

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