Ex-police officer is jailed for two years for stealing £1m from her solicitor employer to give to dating app fraudster who has disappeared with the cash
- Former officer Manjit Singh made eight transactions from employers account
- The 60-year-old transferred funds to account of a man she met on dating site
An ex-police officer wo stole £1m from her employer to hand over to a man she believed ‘wanted to marry her’ has been jailed for two years.
Manjit Singh secretly made eight transactions from her solicitor employer’s account to the bank account of a man she met on a dating website who requested financial help.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that the 60-year-old former Malaysian police officer believed the man would repay her, but both he and the money have ‘vanished’ and are yet to be traced by police.
Singh, of Warwick Street, Toxteth, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to eight offences of fraud by abuse of position between September 23 and October 5, 2021.
Peter Killen, prosecuting, told the court Singh had been employed by Lei Dat & Baig solicitors, based on Renshaw Street in the city centre, from 2014 where she initially worked as a volunteer on IT systems.
She became a full time employee in 2017 and by 2019, was working on cases and had been trained to transfer money between client and office amounts, and make payments under the supervision of Mr Baig.
On the evening of October 6, 2021, Mr Baig checked his business account and found just £40,000, having expected to see a balance of £800,000.
Manjit Singh secretly made eight transactions from her solicitor employer’s account to the bank account of a man she met on a dating website who requested financial help
He found there had been eight transactions made, the first for £1,000 on September 23, followed by transfers of £5,000 and £14,200 the next day.
Thereafter came deposits of £47,000 on September 27, £87,700 on September 29 and £155,080 on September 30. The transactions finally rose to £388,200 on October 4 and £260,000 on October 5, bringing the total to £958,180.
He called Singh, who said the transfers had been properly made and said she would check the following day. The next morning, she sent him a message saying she had identified the problem and that she would resolve it, alongside an image of a cheque for £945,000 purportedly payable to the firm.
Mr Baig contacted the bank and found the transfers had gone to an account in Ireland in the name of Patricia Flannery. Singh told him she had mistakenly made transfers from the firm instead of her own account, and falsely claimed to have £2million in a Malaysian account.
‘She sent to Mr Baig the image of a cheque was coming from her partner Ravi Jani’, Mr Killen told the court. ‘The defendant said that Mr Jani had funds to repay the firm and showed screenshots of a bank account containing $2,361,500.’
She then rang the number she had for Mr Jani and gave the phone to Mr Baig, who spoke to man claiming to be Mr Jani, who said the funds would be repaid that day.
But Mr Baig opted to suspend his bank account out of caution.
‘The defendant sent a further images of a Barclays transfer to Mr Baig’, Mr Killen added. ‘This transfer was not made and Mr Baig realized his firm was in jeopardy and called the police and the defendant was arrested.
‘Mr Baig gave the police emails from the defendant purportedly to parties engaged in the shipping of equipment to Ravi Jani. The emails also contained details of payments required for release of materials for shipping.’
Singh, of Warwick Street, Toxteth, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to eight offences of fraud by abuse of position between September 23 and October 5, 2021
When interviewed by police, Singh admitted making the transfers and said: ‘It’s just a stupid thing that I have done thinking that I was helping someone and then I end up getting myself caught, thinking the money would come back to the account you know and all would be ok’.
‘She explained the transfers were for a man called Ravi she had met online’, Mr Killen said. ‘She believed that Ravi wanted to marry her, she believed he was currently in Dubai working.
‘She met him on a site called Asian.Shaadi.com which is a site for people interested in getting married,’ said Mr Killen.
Singh explained that she initially denied his request for a few thousand pounds, but then agreed. He asked for larger and larger payments on the basis he would be able to travel from Dubai once equipment was shipped.
Singh, who divorced in 2019, previously said she had hoped to marry Mr Jani.
She said they had numerous phone calls a day and she saw him once or twice on FaceTime.
When her bank accounts were examined there was no evidence of any financial benefit to her.
Police attempted to identify Mr Jani through an Interflora delivery Singh has received in work two weeks previously, which was linked to an IP address in Cape Town, South Africa, but the customer was not found.
The funds sent to Ireland were immediately transferred to two further untraceable separate accounts, believed to be in Spain.
Mr Killen said that analysis of her phone showed hundreds of messages over a month long chat log.
Mr Jani, who claimed to be on a rig, kept coming up with reasons as to why he needed money and why he had not come to the UK.
The court heard that Singh understood the transfers were wrong. On September 20 she messaged Ravi saying, ‘You have or do not have the money is not the issue it’s just me putting my years of working at stake’ and she added that she was ‘putting my whole life at stake here.’
The 60-year-old former Malaysian police officer believed the man would repay her, but both he and the money have ‘vanished’ and are yet to be traced by police
Mr Jani kept assuring her the money would be repaid but, on the evening of October 7, he stopped answering messages.
The court heard that the solicitor’s firm has since been reimbursed by its insurers, but that it now faces higher charges. Mr Baig is now on anti-depressants, and has been forced to put forward his personal assets to guarantee payments.
Gwen Renshaw, defending, said the messages between Singh and Mr Jani were illuminating and shows she was extremely vulnerable.
‘He repeatedly told her she was beautiful, that he cared for her and would look after her and they were in love’, she said.
‘She was told she was beautiful, he would care for her and look after her and they were in love. She is at a loss as to how she could have been so naïve.
‘At the time, she was going through a very difficult period. It would seem she was ripe for exploitation as a result of a number of factors.
‘She clearly believed the line Ravi Jani was spinning her. She believed she was helping a man she loved and the money would be returned.
‘The defendant clearly bitterly regrets her involvement in this offence. Ms Singh feels incredibly stupid for having been taken in and acted as she did.’
She added that Singh, who has long standing mental health problems, was going through a difficult time.
The court heard that Singh’s father, who had been shot, was a police officer. Her siblings were also in the force.
Singh left the force after her father’s death and came to the UK, where she worked for charities including Women’s Aid.
Singh was sentenced to two years behind bars at Liverpool Crown Court
She married someone from a different faith, who was unfaithful and left her while she was suffering from cancer, Ms Henshaw said.
Her ex-partner then had a child in a new relationship. Singh was unable to have children due to her cancer.
Judge David Aubrey, KC, said that only an immediate jail sentence was appropriate and put her behind bars for two years.
‘This is not an easy sentencing exercise because not only were you a fraudster, you were also a victim of a fraud and what has rightly been called a romance fraud,’ the judge said to her.
‘You were duped and were yourself subject of a classic online con. You did not receive one penny for that which you did dishonestly and at the time is is quite apparent you had been exploited.’
He told Singh that before Mr Jani came into her life, she was a woman of impeccable character.
‘The amount stolen by her ‘is in truth quite staggering – £958,180 – which is just short of £1m’, he added.
‘You had gone on a site for those who wish to get married and there you ‘met’ the devious and so-called Ravi Jani. He inveigled his way into your life, you were accommodating. Indeed in my judgement you were in awe.
‘You were under his spell while he spun a yarn to you because you were seeking marriage. There was never going to be any sailing into the sunset with him.’
‘He sought to build up a relationship with you. He groomed you, he was manipulative and exploited you, reading out to your heart, promising to come to the UK and marry you.
‘The stories he told you got more and more fanciful and the transfers were higher and higher. He had your vulnerability in the palms of his hands and you were in his clutches.’
Source: Read Full Article