Singapore woman, 61, avoids losing RM1.18mil of life savings to scammers after Maybank officer intervenes

Nurul Amaleena, an assistant service manager, spotted red flags when a customer requested for a cashier’s order and seemed to be in a hurry. - PHOTO: MAYBANK SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE: Maybank Singapore has saved its customers nearly S$1 million (RM3.5mil) by intervening in scam cases in 2023.

The bank, which began keeping tabs on its scam intervention cases during the year with help from the Singapore Police Force, intervened in 14 cases from March to November, preventing the loss of S$975,800.

In one case, a Maybank staff member at its Jurong Point branch acted promptly after spotting red flags when a customer requested to issue a cashier’s order.

This prevented the customer from losing a total of S$338,000 (RM1.18 million), which comprised her life savings, to a government official impersonation scam.

The customer, a 61-year-old woman, had requested for a S$130,000 cashier’s order on Oct 25.

“When I attended to her, she seemed to be in a hurry when she applied for the cashier’s order under her own name,” 30-year-old Nurul Amaleena, an assistant service manager at the branch, told The Straits Times.

When Ms Amaleena probed further, the customer became agitated.

Noting the customer’s behaviour, as well as the large amount of funds being moved, Ms Amaleena then brought her to a private room to better understand her request.

After initially insisting on proceeding with the cashier’s order, the customer eventually revealed that she was following instructions from someone claiming to be a police inspector who told her she was a suspect in a money laundering case.

He had threatened to prosecute her family members if she did not comply.

The woman had already made a transfer to the “inspector” the previous day from another bank account, and had also applied for two other cashier orders from other banks, intending to send these to him.

After Ms Amaleena learnt this, she escalated the matter to Maybank’s digital banking fraud team, who advised the customer to encash two other cashier’s orders – which amounted to S$208,000 – made from two other local banks into her Maybank account, to safeguard the money.

The team also worked with the police’s Anti-Scam Centre to quickly freeze the scammer’s foreign bank account, which contained funds transferred the previous day, and notified the other banks involved to take the necessary measures to safeguard the customer’s account.

The victim subsequently lodged a police report on the matter.

In response to ST’s queries, Maybank said it “does not have clarity” on the amount and outcome of funds that were transferred to the scammer’s foreign bank account, citing the ongoing police investigation.

There were 22,339 scam cases reported in Singapore from January to June 2023, with victims losing a total of S$334.5 million.

Among the top 10 scam types, government official impersonation scams, which was the ninth most common scam in the first half of 2023, had the highest average loss at about $116,000 per victim.

Scammers stole an estimated S$1.4 trillion globally between August 2022 and August 2023, with victims in Singapore losing the most money on average, at US$4,031 (S$5,355) per victim. - The Straits Times/ANN

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Singapore , Maybank , Save , Customer , Life Savings , Money Scam


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