A netizen, John Paul Tan, shared on Facebook his experience of falling victim to a phishing scam, and having the entire life savings of his and his wife wiped out.
Here is the story:
“I was an OCBC scam victim. This is my story.
I share a joint account with my wife. It was a Tuesday morning and I had just come back from the doctor because my 11-month-old daughter had HFMD. I was trying to get her to drink water, when my wife told me she received a strange message from OCBC, telling her someone was trying to access her account.
It was the phishing message, she clicked it.
Things started unraveling, she tried calling the bank and was put on hold at least twice. I didn’t think too much about it, I trusted her judgment and my daughter needed to be fed desperately.
Later that afternoon, my wife had brought my 3 year old out to the playground when she called me in a panic. She needed to go to the police station to make a report, our bank account was compromised. I logged on to the account and our life savings were wiped out. We lost everything in 5 overseas transactions.
I called the bank immediately and they said that it had to be taken up by my wife because she clicked the link.
Eventually, she came home and we called the bank together. They told us that they would try their best to get it back in 9 days, but the money was gone and chances were slim.
I immediately took out my calculator and bashed in all the cash I had lying around. What if I can’t pay my bills? How will my kids eat?
Alas, it wasn’t enough.
I was distraught. I sat down in the middle of the kitchen with my head in my hands, going through various stages of grief. “It’s all gone…” was the last thing I said. I made plans to surrender an investment I made way before maturity and took a huge loss, but at least I’d have cash.
The next day, my wife came down with a fever and she too was diagnosed with HFMD. I couldn’t get out of bed for 2 days. My mental state of mind had completely collapsed.
I got my ass out of bed on Christmas eve, only because I had work. I logged on, passed the workday as normally as I could. At about 1pm, when everyone else had logged off, I penned a heartfelt email to my staff, thanking them for their work in the year despite whatever hardships they may have gone through. I sent it and logged off.
I collapsed back in bed – but not long after, I got up. Somehow, I had gained a little perspective. I had the cash, nobody would starve, what was I really upset about? I asked myself how I wanted to be remembered, especially by the girls. It was never going to be about how rich daddy was. I wanted to be remembered as a generous person with integrity, always doing what was right even in adversity.
I got out of bed and had a Christmas eve dinner with my family (lovingly prepared by my parents). We prayed together and we were determined to put this behind us.
I wanted a normal Christmas for the girls. So we opened our presents on Christmas morning and had so much fun with all the new toys they received. But not long later, my 3-year-old developed a fever. She had HFMD too.
“This is a modern-day replay of the book of Job” I told my wife, almost in jest. I turned on Albert Hammond’s hit, just to humour me how much of a disaster Christmas was turning out to be. We had no choice but to self-isolate over the festive period because of the HFMD bug.
“But this story isn’t sad”
But this story isn’t a sad one. My parents made more food, a close friend had bought us groceries, another bought us some nice food for Christmas and New Year, another gave us free legal advice. The investment money came in, we were out of the woods. After the turn of the new year, the bank managed to retrieve 2 out of the 5 transactions. Obviously I would want to get all my money back, but it was more than I had expected (because I had already primed myself to get back nothing).
My wife and I sat down at the dining table that night after the kids had gone to bed. We talked for hours about how blessed we were to come out of this relatively unscathed. Nobody was hurt, barring some serious mental trauma. Most importantly, as devastating as it could be, the family stayed together through it all. It was time to start again, but maybe slightly differently this time.
In that spirit, not every victim is as fortunate as us; some who weren’t even victims have it worse than us. If you haven’t already done so, consider getting in touch with someone you know who fell prey and think about making regular contributions to a local charity. Be nice to your colleagues and loved ones, you don’t know what they may be going through. Above all, hug your spouse and kids a little tighter.
As a public servant, I have also prepared some FAQs here, so you wouldn’t need to overwhelm me with texts.
Q: Omg are you ok? What can I do for you?
A: Yes, I’m fine, the family is ok. We have jobs and regular salaries, things will eventually stabilise. Please don’t do anything for me, read the last paragraph of the story and find it in your heart to help someone else less fortunate.
Q: How much did you lose?
A: It was quite a bit but in all seriousness, it’s not really about how much. Most likely, those that lost less in absolute terms are likely to be impacted more.
Q: How could the bank do this to you?
A: We hope the bank can wrap up their investigations and we can then consider if any action is required. Hopefully, laws can also change to make sure banks are better equipped (i.e. not putting anyone on hold in their hour of need) and to have more impactful regulations to make banks sit up when there are scams, instead of being absolved.
Q: Aren’t you angry with your wife?
A: She explained everything that had happened, I accepted that she didn’t act in bad faith and it could have happened to anyone (400+ others to be exact). Being angry with the scammer and HFMD is probably more appropriate.
Q: What is an Albert Hammond?
A: It Never Rains in Southern California”
Editor’s note: Respect your positive outlook bro, praying for you.