How a Brisbane woman laundered millions without realising she’d done anything wrong

A Brisbane woman allegedly laundered money by transferring almost $2.4 million for email hackers who targeted businesses across Australia, a jury heard.

Mar 14, 2023, updated Mar 14, 2023
 File image.

File image.

Rosse Eckl, 67, faced the first day of her two-week money laundering trial in Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday after pleading not guilty to five counts of dealing in the proceeds of crime in amounts ranging from more than $1000 to more than $1 million.

Eckl was accused of using accounts at National Australia Bank, Westpac, Bank Australia, Bankwest and St George that were registered to her two Brisbane businesses to receive a total of $2.36 million in 2019 and 2020 from hackers running a fake invoice scam.

The alleged victims included a mining waste disposal company in Western Australia, a Brisbane engineering firm, a French equipment leasing company, an aged care home in Sydney and an animal feed supplier in South Australia.

Hackers had set up email addresses similar to those used by the businesses and sent messages to their clients or suppliers requesting payment of fraudulent invoices, the crown’s opening statement alleged.

“There is no suggestion (Eckl) is a hacker herself or that she sent any emails,” the crown prosecutor told the jury.

“The crown does allege she knew the money was the proceeds of crime. The accused had a number of bank accounts. She provided her banking details to the hackers for the purpose of receiving the money.”

Eckl, who was represented herself, opted not to make an opening statement.

The largest single alleged criminal transaction was $1.164 million that was transferred to the Bankwest account belonging to Orchid Tech Services, a business registered to Eckl, in September 2019.

The money allegedly came from a French leasing company that had received an invoice and payment request claiming to be from an executive at a Sydney company that manufactured tanks for transporting dangerous chemicals.

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A later complaint from the French company resulted in Queensland Police detectives visiting Eckl’s home in Carina in Brisbane’s inner east.

In audio played to the jury, Eckl told police she was “just doing somebody a favour” by letting a person in Malaysia, whom she had known for 10 years, use her accounts to hold money to pay for business expenses in exchange for $300.

Eckl agreed she transferred money from the Orchid Tech Services account to other accounts in amounts ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 and withdrew cash in amounts between $2000 and $5000, which were then picked up at her home by unknown men.

The detectives told Eckl, who has a degree in accounting and worked as a paralegal, they had a hard time believing someone with her background would not see something wrong with what she had been asked to do.

“Seriously, I did ask. He said it was legit,” Eckl said.

At the end of the interview, Eckl told the detectives “I realise now I’m stupid”.

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