Aussie laundered pension funds stolen via Hong Kong using crypto and diamonds

A Melbourne, Australia woman pleaded guilty on Wednesday to her role in stealing millions of dollars from superannuation (retirement) funds and stock portfolios before laundering the proceeds through Hong Kong via the purchase of cryptocurrency and diamonds, as reported by age newspaper.

See related article: Superannuation and Australian Institutions Await Clarity to Invest in Crypto

Fast facts

  • When Jasmine Vella-Arpaci was 21, she used identity theft and phishing scams to steal more than A$3 million (US$1.96 million) from 26 super fund clients, including HESTA, Hostplus and Rest Super, and various stock trading platforms.
  • The stolen funds were then transferred to a series of fraudulently obtained Westpac – one of Australia’s four largest banks – debit cards, which were then mailed to a syndicate member in Hong Kong who purchased diamonds and jewelry to launder funds.
  • Vella-Arpaci, now 24, then received her share of the profits, worth A$147,000, in Bitcoin.
  • Australia’s pension scheme has been classified as the fifth in the world in 2021 with a valuation of US$3.2 trillion, and as such, there is great interest in whether the industry could start investing in the crypto market.
  • During the police investigation, Vella-Arpaci uncovered 1,400 documents such as passports, driving licenses, bank cards and Medicare (the Australian government-backed healthcare system).
  • Vella-Arpaci pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiracy to defraud and one of conspiracy to appropriate the proceeds of crime. She remains free on bail until the resumption of the hearing on November 30.

See related article: Australian watchdog obtains cold wallet containing US$20 million in Bitcoin implicated in alleged scam

Sarah C. Figueiredo