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Bank reimburses Singaporean student who lost S$14,000 in scam

Scammer persuaded her to transfer her money to another account and then cleaned it out

Singapore—A 24-year-old Singaporean student living in the UK was conned of S$14,000 in a bank scam, but fortunately the bank agreed to give her a complete reimbursement.

The student, whose real name is not given in the (ST) report, was by herself in Britain when she got a phone call from someone who claimed to be a member of the bank’s anti-fraud team.

The scammer told the student that her primary account had been compromised and urged her to transfer all her funds into her secondary account to keep it safe.

Although the student panicked, she checked and saw the call was coming from a number that matched the emergency number on her bank card.

She looked into the history of the account reported to be compromised — and found someone had tried to make transactions on the account.

She did not realise the scammer had changed the caller ID, making it look as if the call was coming from the bank’s emergency number.

The fraudster had also ordered food for delivery and then cancelled the order, which was why the student saw someone had tried to make transactions on her account.

Unfortunately, the student believed the caller represented her bank. The scammer was successful in getting her to move around £8,000 (S$14,673) into her secondary account.

This amount had been allotted for her school fees.

Shortly after, her secondary account was cleaned out by the fraudster — all the money gone.

“I felt pretty helpless and it took a toll on my mental health for a couple of days. Scammers are getting smarter and definitely learning more tricks,” she told ST.

This type of scam is called an authorised push payment fraud, according to the head of global business at cyber-security company Group-IB, Mr Nicholas Palmer.

He told ST that this scam is popular in Europe.

“Victims usually get calls from scammers posing as bank employees, telecom providers or insurance companies,” he said.

“There is no reason to doubt the fraudsters as they might also know your personal details, including name, phone number and even the bank you have an account with.”

He added that anyone who received such a call should end it, and then call the number on their credit card in order to verify what the caller tells them.

The student was fortunate in getting her money back. ST says not everyone is so lucky, particularly when the funds get transferred overseas.

Scams are at a record high in over a decade in Singapore, the police said last week in their yearly crime brief, rising by over 65 per cent from the previous year.

Scams in 2020 made up 42.1 per cent of the total number of crimes, while in 2019 they only made up 27.2 per cent of overall crimes.

E-commerce scams, social media impersonation scams, loan scams have been on the rise.

Last but not least, a Singaporean approached us on the same day in less than 12 hours in which we then informed her to contact DBS to freeze the other scam company account that she transferred to, POSB which is the same bank however victim was told to lodge a police report to investigate the case and that DBS is unable to hold the funds for the victim. We believed that the funds have reached the runners who usually picked up the cash via cash withdrawal on the next day afternoon sucessfully.


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