PETALING JAYA: A Malaysian who used a fake passport to withdraw A$680,605.82 (RM2.16mil) for an international robbery syndicate will spend the next three years in an Australian prison.
Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported that Chan Seng Yee, 22, was handed the sentence by the County Court in Melbourne last month for his role in the syndicate, for which he was paid A$10,000 (RM31,820).
He had earlier pleaded guilty to three charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception and one charge of obtaining property by deception.
In meting out the sentence, judge Mark Taft said Chan’s role was integral to what had been a “sophisticated and carefully orchestrated” scam.
The paper revealed that the “well-orchestrated” fraud began in July last year when Chan met a man believed to be a member of an international syndicate, who offered him “fast cash” of about A$30,000 (RM95,433).
Chan, who entered Australia on a student visa in 2013, had been struggling to make ends meet, so agreed to assume another person’s identity to withdraw A$1mil (RM3.18mil) from a Bank of Melbourne account.
He was asked to give a passport photo and to memorise a name, phone number, e-mail address and date of birth as part of the scheme.
Chan would later claim that he was threatened with a gun to participate in the scam, and was allegedly told that he would be in Hong Kong when the scheme was over.
He said he was also led to believe that the rightful owner of the bank account knew about the scheme.
On Aug 5, Chan made the first withdrawal. He walked into a Bank of Melbourne branch and asked for A$30,000 cash.
Under the assumed identity, he also requested for a replacement bank card on the pretext of having lost his phone and wallet.
Over the next month, Chan was able to make 34 separate withdrawals from various branches of the bank in amounts up to A$85,000 (RM270,393), and even spread out the cash by transferring it to bank accounts at Westpac and NAB.
He was eventually able to withdraw A$680,605.82 (RM2.16mil), none of which has been recovered by investigators.
Chan’s act was up when the actual owner of the account told the bank’s Melbourne Box Hill branch that his Internet password had changed and that his bank card would not work at the ATM.
The bank reimbursed the missing money, while CCTV footage revealed that Chan had visited Westpac and the Bank of Melbourne branches a total of 23 times. He was later arrested.