A mother who had $10 million wrongly deposited into her account after a mistake by a cryptocurrency website had initially aspired to bring her children to Australia through sheer hard work, a court has heard.
Thevamangari Manivel moved to Australia in 2015 with the goal of providing for her family and bringing her three children out to join her.
She worked hard physical jobs including in irrigation on a cotton farm and cleaning motels before training as a disability support and aged care worker.
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When her then-boyfriend Jatinder Singh told her he had won $10 million and it was deposited into her bank, she transferred it into a joint account.
The windfall was too good to be true.
In reality, Singh had placed a $100 deposit with website Crypto.com which was refunded because of a discrepancy in account names.
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Then, in what was described by Victorian County Court Judge Martine Marich as the most extraordinary of circumstances, the staff member issuing the refund mistakenly typed an account number into the funds box – transferring more than $10.4 million to Manivel.
Prosecutors conceded they could not prove the now-41-year-old did anything wrong until January last year when she was contacted by the bank and asked to return the funds.
In response, Manivel made two separate transfers of $2 million to a bank account in Malaysia.
Several more online messages came from her bank, requesting return of the funds but Manivel told police she thought it was a scam, and when she spoke to a bank staffer they had agreed.
She was arrested in March 2022 at Melbourne airport, attempting to board a flight to Malaysia – with a one-way ticket and $11,750 cash.
Manivel was sentenced to 209 days in prison on Friday – reflecting the time she served before being granted bail last October.
Judge Marich also ordered she complete 200 hours of community work and be subjected to a curfew between 10pm and 6am over the next six months.
Manivel’s criminal actions were a “shortcut to the financial goal you had previously endeavoured to pursue through your sheer hard work”, she said.
She said uncertainty over Manivel’s visa status acted as additional punishment for her crime, but Mercy Health has offered to support her application for permanent residency because of her employment in the aged care sector.
Manivel was also placed on an 18-month good behaviour bond over the cash she was arrested with at the airport, which she admitted was known proceeds of crime.
Singh is due to face a pre-sentence hearing next month for his part in the offending.
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