Many of us dream about earning millions and having enough money that we never have to worry about anything other than how we are going to spend all of it. However, a rare few of us somehow get to find out what it’s like – even if the money isn’t ours. It turned out that one student was about to live a life on the other side as she spent a million dollars that weren’t hers.
An overnight change
Christine Jia Xin Lee was almost 18 years old when she decided to move from Malaysia to Sydney. She was set to study toward her chemical engineering degree at the University of Sydney, but her plans didn’t end there.
Christine also loved to spend money. Little did she know that Christine would go to bed like any other student only to wake up and find out that she had millions of dollars in her bank account.
No financial worries
While many students worry about how they will be able to pay their way through college, it turned out that Christine didn’t have any added stress. Why? Her family back in Malaysia were pretty well off, and they agreed to help the student finance her way through her time at college.
This meant that everything from tuition fees to nights on the town were usually all covered by her parents. Christine decided the best way to keep her money safe was to open a local bank account. After all, she didn’t want anyone else to learn about all the money that she had lying around.
Dressed to impress
It looked as though Westpac Banking Corporation in Australia had everything Christine needed. The student signed all the paperwork shortly before her 18 birthday in 2012. However, people around town no longer knew the student as someone earning their chemical engineering degree. Instead, her lavish outfits and extravagant purchases saw Christine become known as a local fashionista.
That’s right; she was often spotted in the latest designer threads and would usually finish her outfits with expensive accessories. The other students just assumed that her parents were more affluent than they thought. However, it turned out that Christine’s income was coming from another source.
Partner in crime
Thankfully, Christine soon had someone by her side to help enjoy all the riches that were about o come her way. Vincent King and Christine headed out on a few dates before they became an official item. It looked as though Vincent was just what the student needed during her time at college.
The pair met in Sydney, and Vincent was there to help Christine through the tough times. She worried about the language barrier, how she would make friends, and being able to keep on top of her studying. Thankfully, with Vincent by her side, it looked as though everything was a little bit easier.
Dripping in designer
While some people have been able to enjoy a lavish lifestyle while they are at college, many assumed that only happened in the likes of Gossip Girl and no one in Sydney would ever be able to afford just a lifestyle. That was until they met Christine.
The teen wore designer items from head to toe, including Christian Louboutin high heels to Cartier bracelets. It seemed to many as though Christine was living the high life. However, no one knew the truth. It turned out that Christine had no idea how she was able to afford such a luxurious lifestyle.
Plenty of purses
Just one year after she moved to Sydney, Christine had a closet that was filled with all the designer clothes that she could ever need. In fact, Christine had more than ten Hermès Birkin purses that cost thousands of dollars each.
They are some of the most sought-after designs in the world, yet it appeared to mean nothing to the student. Some of the purses are known to sell for $12,000, but that wasn’t all. Christine also had matching scarves.
Left in the dark
Many started to wonder how Christine had so much money left to spend on all of her new items. After all, her parents were supposed to be sending her money to spend on her school fees, yet Christine seemed to be spending more on her shopping sprees than her degrees.
It turned out that her parents had no idea that Christine was living the life of a millionaire. Now, people wanted to know how Christine was earning so much.
Noticing the change
It wasn’t long before Christine noticed that her account had more money than she thought. However, she didn’t think too much of it. Instead, the student believed that her parents had decided to increase her monthly allowance so that she could enjoy the finer things in life.
They must have forgotten to tell their daughter, right? Although Christine apparently thought that something seemed a little strange, she chose to carry living her new lavish lifestyle.
A sudden halt
It looked as though everything was going so well. Christine continued to buy whatever she liked, whenever she liked it, and everyone else let her get on with her life. The bank had no issues, and her family continued to pay in their monthly allowance.
However, Christine never thought to tell her family that something felt a little strange. That was until April 2015. Something had caught up with Christine. Now, her account had been frozen.
Christine had spent 11 months buying all the latest items for her lifestyle, with her shopping sprees often costing way into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It seemed as though there was no limit to her spending.
However, Westpac’s Product Risk Unit suddenly noticed something unusual. Christine had made 14 transactions in just one day. She had moved a whopping AUD 1,165,719.95 (approx. $789,775) into another account. It was too much money for the team to ignore.
Noticing the charges
Moving more than AUD 1 million (approx. $677,500) to another account was the final straw. The team at the bank noticed that something must be off, and knew they needed to make sure they had some answers before Christine spent any more money.
What they didn’t spot was the fact that Christine had spent a staggering AUD 4.6 million (approx. $3,116,545) from 2014 to 2015. The bank had no idea how she had got away with it for so long.
Just in time
Many believed that Christine was entitled to her money and that her parents had been funding her lifestyle the entire time. However, it wasn’t long before some wondered if Christine knew that her time as a millionaire was coming to an end.
The then-21-year-old transferred AUD 1 million (approx. $677,500), bought an emergency passport, and tried to board a plane to Malaysia. Sadly, Christine was arrested and taken into custody at Sydney Airport before she could board the flight.
Taken into custody
The police now needed to discover just what they were charing Christine with as they built their case. Initially, they believed the student had deliberately overdrawn her account by AUD 4.6 million (approx. $3,116,500) and that Christine never planned to pay any of it back.
The authorities charged Christine with dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception. Christine had to remain with the police thanks to heer visa – even though she could afford her bail of AUD 1,000 (approx. $675).
The authorities soon wanted to talk to everyone around Christine to get to the bottom of the story. It appeared as though most people had the same tale to tell: Christine always had nice, new things, but they assumed it was thanks to her parents.
That was apart from Vincent. Christine’s love said that he never saw his girlfriend make any outlandish purchases. He had no idea that Christine had access to all of this money.
Racking them up
While many people in her personal life had no idea that Christine had access to all of these funds, it looked as though the student had found a way to take advantage of her new money – and wanted to enjoy them while they lasted.
Christine visited no less than five designer stores in one day where she somehow managed to spend AUD 310,000 (approx. $210,025). Smartphones, accessories, and a Dyson vacuum cleaner were some of the many lavish purchases.
Sharing the news
It turned out there was another grand outgoing payment that Christine was making every month. The student had one of the priciest apartments in the city as she lived overlooking Sydney Harbor. In fact, the apartment cost $3,120 AUD (approx. $2,115) in rent every month.
The hair salon in the building said they never had any idea that Christine was sitting on all of this money. Apparently, she was always pleasant and never said much.
Little by little
Although Christine wasn’t caught until her million-dollar transfer, it turned out that she might have been planning her scheme for many months. The student’s rent payment meant that she was in her overdraft. Christine paid it back but didn’t want the same thing to happen again.
That’s when Christine decided to start transferring small amounts of money to her personal account until she had acquired around AUD 4.5 million (approx. $3,048,750) in seven months.
One step too far
Once the money was in Christine’s account, it was off to two Commonwealth Bank accounts. Some reports state the student was transferring up to AUD 5,000 (approx. $3,390) each day to make sure her funds stayed a secret.
It’s thought that AUD 33,000 (approx. $22,360) was sent to accounts that had nothing to do with Westpac. The smaller transfers meant they went undetected for months. That was until Christine decided to risk it all.
Westpac was unable to find $3.3 million of the money that had gone missing. That wasn’t all. Vincent was now back in the firing line. It turned out that he had handed in plenty of forms and documents to the court to try and free his girlfriend.
However, Vincent was unable to prove his identity and made several spelling mistakes on the forms. He later resubmitted the forms after changing his name to Junnan Jin instead.
The final result
Although it looked as though Christine could be facing many years in prison and rising debt, the charges were eventually dropped. It turned out the authorities had been trying to arrest the student since 2012, but they needed years of evidence before they could catch her in the act.
The magistrate stated that Christine had used money that had been given to her by the bank and would need to repay the costs. They believed Westpac were to blame.
Debating her innocence
Many have questioned whether Christine knew about the money or not. Of course, sending money to various accounts throughout the month seemed to show that Christine knew that she wasn’t supposed to have the money – especially as she never questioned her parents about all the extra thousands of dollars every month.
However, Christina is adamant that she believed her family were the ones behind the money. The student later added that her parents were less than impressed with her arrest.
Getting their money
However, Christine still knew that she had bought a lot of items along the way. Most of the money seemed to go toward funding her closet as Christine enjoyed everything from purses to shoes to clothes.
Apparently, they were all in a unit, and now Christine only had AUD 4,000 (approx. $2,710) left to her name. Westpac managed to claim AUD 1.5 million (approx. $1,016,250) from Christine’s accounts, but they needed the rest.
Over at last
Christine apparently decided to try and clear the debt as soon as she could. The student returned at least 27 items that she had purchased over the years and was able to raise AUD 1 million (approx. $677,500).
The rest? Thankfully, Westpac got a Supreme Court order that allowed the bank to seize Christine’s possessions to cover the costs. The bank ended up with more than 100 purses and other items while Christine has since returned to Malaysia.