By FARRAH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A 21-year-old woman who defrauded Commonwealth Bank of over $3,000 was placed on two years’ probation and ordered to pay back the stolen money.
Qwendisha Neely was charged with one count each of money laundering and stealing after she was accused of illegally acquiring $3,300 from Commonwealth Bank sometime between June 23 and 25.
She pleaded guilty to both offences during a hearing before Deputy Chief Magistrate Andrew Forbes yesterday.
The prosecution said on June 30, a money laundering officer at Commonwealth Bank told police she was informed that a couple’s bank account had been compromised in the amount of $7,800. The couple were then informed that their account had been involved in an email scam. The court was told $3,300 was transferred to Neely’s account while the rest of the funds were sent to other people.
On October 15, Neely was arrested and interviewed at the Financial Crime Investigation Branch. When she was questioned, she told officers she had conducted a number of withdrawals from Commonwealth Bank and claimed the funds came from a man in New York who was offering mysterious jobs. Neely said she used the funds to buy groceries, diapers, wipes and clothes. She was subsequently charged with the offences.
During the hearing, Neely was represented by attorney Keith Seymour. He told the magistrate his client was a mother of two young children and insisted she had “learned her lesson over the past few days”. Noting the defendant was “willing to offer restitution”, he asked the magistrate to consider Neely’s early guilty plea and to avoid imposing a custodial sentence.
After listening to Mr Seymour’s plea in mitigation, Magistrate Forbes told Neely she was an adult. He furthered that as a parent, the defendant had a responsibility to set an example and teach her children not to take things that didn’t belong to them. He said there was no such thing as free money and insisted “there was always a price to pay no matter what”.
As a result, he placed Neely on probation for two years and ordered her to reimburse Commonwealth Bank $3,300 on or before December 30. He warned her if she didn’t, she would spend one year behind bars.