Woman who stole over $52,600 from adopted mother's bank accounts jailed 12 months

Wong Casandra
Senior Reporter
(Getty Images file photo)

To support her extravagant lifestyle, she stole over $52,600 from two of her adopted mother’s bank accounts over the course of nearly seven months.

Hafizah Abdullah, 24, performed over 120 unauthorised online banking transactions from the POSB bank accounts belonging to Jamaliah Noordin using the latter’s log-in credentials and transferred most of the 64-year-old’s funds to her own account.

Only about $1,200 of the stolen money was left after she splurged it on personal expenses like drinks, hotel staycations, and clothes.

Hafizah, who was unrepresented, was on Wednesday (8 August) sentenced to 12 months in jail after pleading guilty to 18 charges of securing unauthorised access to data held in a bank’s system. A total of 106 similar charges were taken into consideration against Hafizah, who had previously worked as a part-time bartender and a salesperson.

The court heard that from October 2016 to May 2017, Hafizah had made 124 i-banking fund transfers – amounting to $52,660.72 – using log-in credentials that were previously given to her by Jamaliah. Both women used the same laptop computer to perform their i-banking transactions.

As Hafizah’s bank account was added as a payee in Jamaliah’s i-banking account, the former could easily transfer money to herself by simply logging into the account.

She would subsequently obtain a one-time pin (OTP) from Jamaliah’s mobile phone each time, on the pretext of wanting to check something else on it, and delete the OTP message to avoid detection, court documents showed.

The offences came to light on 18 May 2017 after Jamaliah updated her bank records and discovered the unauthorised transactions. On the same day, she lodged a police report.

In calling for a sentence of 12 months, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Hon Yi said that Hafizah’s offences were driven by personal greed to maintain a lifestyle beyond her means, noting that the accused had not made any restitution. There was clear premeditation shown on her part, he added.

“She carefully deleted the messages from the mobile phone after she had carried out the transactions, thereby erasing her tracks,” added DPP Hon Yi. “This extra step clearly worked, as the complainant did not detect the offences for months, thereby allowing the accused the long window to drain the accounts of funds.”

For securing unauthorised access to computer material, Hafizah could have faced a maximum fine of $5,000 or a jail term of up to two years or both.

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