Twenty-one year old Christine Jiaxin Lee has been arrested by the Australian police and charged with fraud for allegedly spending US$3.4 million that her bank mistakenly gave her lavishly on luxury handbags. Police arrested her as she attempted to board a flight to Malaysia on Wednesday night.
The chemical engineering student allegedly obtained an illegal financial advantage by deception when she overdrew her account by Aus$4.6 million (US$3.4 million) and quashed it on designer handbags and other high-end items.
Her bank which offers a range of innovative financial packages had mistakenly paid her, Lee failed to notify the bank that she was not entitled to the money, on numerous occasions made withdrawals that totaling $4,653,333.02 between July 2014 and April 2015.
Although the fraud cops began an investigation into the matter in 2012, it wasn’t until March this year that an arrest warrant was issued and when the bank and police had tried to speak to her about the money she didn’t return emails or phone calls.
The judge who presided over her case however, agreed with Lee’s defence lawyer Fiona McCarron, when she said that police would have to struggle to prove the spending of the money was illegal but but said: “It isn’t proceeds of crime. It’s money we all dream of.” In reality, Westpac gave the money to Lee, the magistrate noted. “If that was proved to be the case, then Lee would owe the money to Westpac and have to pay it back, but she wouldn’t necessarily have broken the law.”
Her boyfriend who came to the court to bail her on a AU$1,000 surety claimed he had no idea she had access to so much money, and had been completely oblivious to her situation until she’d called for help. She was however granted freedom on strict conditions, “including giving up her emergency passport and twice daily reporting to a police.