Jail for money mule who worked with member of Nigerian love scam group and had child with him

1 month ago The Star

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): She fell in love with a member of Nigerian criminal group carrying out love scams from Malaysia and even had a child with him.

Leveraging on this relationship, Awolola Oladayo Opeyemi convinced Suhaili Suparjo, 33, to act as a money mule, to receive cash in person and through her bank accounts.

The Singaporean woman would then travel to Malaysia to hand him the cash.

On Tuesday (Feb 21), Suhaili was sentenced to 15 months’ jail after she pleaded guilty to two counts of helping another person retain the benefits of criminal conduct involving more than S$356,000.

In December 2021, Awolola, then 37, was sentenced in a Singapore district court to five years’ jail after he pleaded guilty to three counts of working with others to receive the benefits of criminal conduct linked to more than $550,000 in losses.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jordon Li said that for the current case, the love scam involved a con artist getting to know victims by using false identities via the Internet.

The scammer will then start romantic relationships with the victims to gain their trust, and then ask them for money.

Trusting the scammer, the victims will make bank transfers or hand over cash to others based on instructions they received.

Awolola went to Malaysia to purportedly further his education. Instead, he became part of the love scam syndicate and its criminal activities.

He worked with a scammer known only as Fola who would cheat the victims. Awolola would then recruit money mules to help receive funds from the victims on the syndicate’s behalf.

DPP Li said that Awolola got into romantic relationships with Singaporean women before recruiting them as money mules. Suhaili was one such woman he recruited, said the prosecutor.

Court documents did not disclose how the pair first met, but Suhaili later received $100,200 from a love scam victim in January 2018. She then travelled to Malaysia and handed the amount to Awolola.

Suhaili also entered into an arrangement with Awolola for her bank account in Singapore to receive monies on his behalf.

Between June and August 2017, it was used to receive benefits of criminal conduct totalling nearly $256,000.

Suhaili would then withdraw the monies, travel to Malaysia and hand them over to Awolola.

Two other Singaporean women then made police reports, stating that they were love scam victims and that they had transferred cash to Suhaili’s bank account.

Local authorities also received information from their counterparts in Canada and Macau about women there who were scammed into transferring cash to the same bank account.

In an operation on April 16, 2019, Malaysian police arrested Awolola in Kuala Lumpur. He was taken to Singapore and charged in court in May 2019.

Defence lawyer Yamuna Balakrishnan told the court that Suhaili, who was then “blindly in love” with Awolola, did not gain any financial benefit from the offences.

Suhaili’s bail was set at $15,000 on Tuesday, and she is expected to surrender herself at the State Courts on March 7 to begin serving her sentence.

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