Uni stu­dent caught in ‘ cuckoo smurf­ing’ cash- laun­der­ing scam

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - BRENDEN HILLS

A UNIVER­SITY stu­dent who asked his multi-mil­lion­aire fa­ther to send him money un­wit­tingly ended up in the mid­dle of an in­ter­na­tional money-laun­der­ing scam run by an or­gan­ised crime syn­di­cate.

And he and his fa­ther had to go to court to get their money back.

Rommy Fer­nan­dez, 25, was study­ing com­merce at the Univer­sity of NSW when his wealthy In­done­sian fa­ther at­tempted to trans­fer $500,000 to his bank ac­count via an In­done­sian-based money re­mit­ter.

But ev­i­dence be­fore the NSW Supreme Court showed the re­mit­ter was in ca­hoots with an Aus­tralian­based or­gan­ised crime syn­di­cate and used an un­wit­ting Mr Fer­nan­dez to laun­der money in a process known as “cuckoo smurf­ing”. Ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments, the money given by Mr Fer­nan­dez’s fa­ther to the re­mit­ter was never trans­ferred to Aus­tralia.

In­stead, the money ex­changer con­tacted the or­gan­ised crime syn­di­cate in Aus­tralia, which trans­ferred money it had made from crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties into Mr Fer­nan­dez’s ac­count in an at­tempt to laun­der it. The clean money was then sent to the syn­di­cate.

The ruse came un­done on June 30, 2015, when po­lice raided an Aus­tralian ho­tel room and ar­rested Leonard Dhar­mananda Linggo and Kim Ching Che­ung, who were found with $1 mil­lion cash and note­books with records of the cash de­posits and de­tails of Mr Fer­nan­dez’s ac­counts.

Linggo and Che­ung ad­mit­ted to hav­ing roles in the syn­di­cate and pleaded guilty to money laun­der­ing and struc­tur­ing of­fences.

But, af­ter Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice froze the ac­counts and seized the money, Mr Fer­nan­dez had to fight a court bat­tle to get the money back.

Jus­tice Simp­son or­dered the money be handed back af­ter mak­ing a num­ber of find­ings, in­clud­ing that Mr Fer­nan­dez was un­wit­tingly duped by an or­gan­ised crime syn­di­cate.

“For­fei­ture of the prop­erty of an in­no­cent victim does not ... in any way op­er­ate as de­ter­rent to those who use the prop­erty of in­no­cent vic­tims to achieve their crim­i­nal ends,” Jus­tice Simp­son told the court.

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