Anti-Scam Centre, banks help shield 82-year-old man in S’pore from scams that would have cost him RM13mil

Anti-Scam Centre officers and police intervened and arrested a 20-year-old man for his suspected involvement in a government officials impersonation scam case. — Photo: Singapore Police Force/ST/ANN

SINGAPORE: An elderly man was targeted in three scam attempts over two months and would have lost a total of S$3.7mil (RM13.04mil), if not for the swift intervention of the police and his banks.

The 82-year-old was repeatedly victimised in February and March, but the Anti-Scam Centre (ASC), CIMB bank and Hong Leong Finance helped to reduce his losses and shield him from further harm.

The police said on March 19 that in the first case, several transactions in the victim’s bank account totalling S$2.1mil (RM7.40mil) were detected by CIMB’s fraud management team on Feb 6.

This prompted ASC and CIMB officers to visit him at his home. CIMB officers also suspended his bank account to prevent further losses.

Subsequently, S$1.3mil (RM4.58mil) was recovered, but S$800,000 (RM2.81mil) was lost to scammers and sent overseas before a police report was filed.

On Feb 7, ASC was alerted by the victim’s son that three cheques amounting to S$1.2mil (RM4.23mil) were issued by Hong Leong Finance under the victim’s instruction to three individuals.

ASC instructed the bank to hold the cheques as they waited for further verifications.

In the third case on March 9, ASC and CIMB were alerted that the victim was accompanied by an unknown man to a bank branch to purchase a cashier’s order of S$1.2mil (RM4.23mil).

ASC officers and police officers from the Central Police Division intervened and arrested a 20-year-old man for his suspected involvement in a government officials impersonation scam case.

Two mobile phones and documents were seized during investigations.

Preliminary investigations showed that the man arrested had impersonated a police officer from China, and accompanied the victim to the CIMB branch where he demanded that the victim purchase the cashier’s order.

The man is believed to be involved in three other government official impersonation scams between February and March, the police added.

The 20-year-old man arrested had impersonated a police officer from China. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

“The police take a serious view against any person who may be involved in scams, whether knowingly or unwittingly. Anyone found to be involved in such scams will be subjected to police investigations,” said the police.

They also advised the public to be careful when receiving unsolicited calls from unknown parties with phone numbers that originate from overseas.

People should ignore such calls and be aware that no government agency will instruct payment through a telephone call or other social messaging platforms, or ask for one’s personal banking information such as internet banking passwords, the police said.

Foreigners who receive calls from persons claiming to be from police in their home country should call their embassy or High Commission to verify the caller’s claims.

The police added that members of the public should refrain from divulging personal information and bank details such as internet bank account usernames and passwords, one-time passwords (OTPs) and codes from tokens, because this information is useful to criminals.

They also encouraged people to call a trusted friend or talk to a relative before they act.

If someone receives a call from a person claiming to be an overseas law enforcement officer, he or she should hang up and check with the police in Singapore.

The police advised that to protect themselves, the public can add security features such as the ScamShield app and two-factor authentication for personal accounts.

They can also set up transaction limits for Internet banking to limit the amount of funds that could be lost through scams.

People should check for scam signs with official sources like the ScamShield WhatsApp bot and anti-scam helpline, and avoid following instructions from dubious parties to install applications, type commands into devices, log into banking accounts or reveal sensitive personal information.

They are also encouraged to inform the authorities and others about scams, and report any fraudulent transactions to the bank immediately. – The Straits Times (Singapore)/Asia News Network

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