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Saturday, March 2, 2024
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LOSSES OF $250K PREVENTED THANKS TO ANTI SCAM CENTRE, GREAT EASTERN & OCBC

On 19 December 2023, the Anti-Scam Centre (ASC) partnered and worked with Great Eastern and OCBC to avert losses of more than S$250,000 in a Government Official Impersonation Scam case. 

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In this case, a 67-year-old victim had received a phone call on 2 December 2023, from a first scammer who impersonated a Government official from China, alleging that the victim had suspicious funds in a bank account under her name in China and accused the victim of having committed a crime. The first scammer then transferred the victim’s call to a second scammer impersonating another Government official from China. On 13 December 2023, under the instructions of the second scammer, the victim opened a new UOB bank account under her name, purportedly to assist in investigations, and provided the internet-banking credentials of the account to the scammer. The victim was also told to withdraw all her money from other bank accounts and liquidate her insurance policies to deposit into the UOB account.

On 18 December 2023, on the instruction of the second scammer, the victim went to Great Eastern at Jurong East to liquidate her insurance policies. The surrender value monies were to be deposited into the victim’s OCBC account. This was detected by a Great Eastern customer service officer who found the victim’s account for the surrender suspicious. The victim claimed that the money was for the purchase of a house and renovation fees but was unable to provide more details when probed further. Despite having to make a loss for the early surrender of her four insurance policies, the victim insisted on proceeding with the surrender, further raising the suspicion of the Great Eastern customer service officer. He promptly escalated the case to OCBC, who reached out to the ASC for intervention. 

The ASC immediately worked with OCBC to prevent the victim from making any further transactions while ASC officers swiftly engaged the victim at her residence, successfully convincing her that she had fallen for a scam. The ASC also acted on the UOB account which was under the control of the second scammer. The alertness of the Great Eastern customer service officer, and the timely intervention by OCBC staff and ASC officers prevented the victim from potentially losing over S$250,000.

Mr Beaver Chua, OCBC’s Head of Anti-Fraud, Group Financial Crime Compliance, said: “OCBC is committed to working closely with the Police to fight scams and protect customers’ funds.”

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The Police would like to alert members of the public to the variant of Government Official Impersonation Scam, where scammers would impersonate officers from government organisations and accuse victims of their involvement in criminal or money laundering activities overseas. The scam occurs in the following way:

  1. Members of the public would receive unsolicited calls from the first scammer who would impersonate a bank officer. The first scammer would allege that the victims have outstanding credit card charges on their cards that are linked to criminal or money laundering activities.
  2. The first scammer would then transfer the victim’s call to a second scammer purporting to be a Government official. The second scammer would inform the victims that they were under investigation for criminal or money laundering activities. The communication between the second scammer and the victim may subsequently move to messaging applications such as WhatsApp and Telegram. The second scammer would then instruct the victims to do any of the following:
  1. relinquish bank account details; 
  2. transfer money to a third-party bank account purportedly to assist in investigations; 
  3. open new bank accounts;
  4. meet unknown subjects to handover / collect / sign fake documents; 
  5. report their whereabouts and told not to divulge details about the investigation. 
  6. Members of the public are advised to adopt the following precautionary measures:

ADD – ScamShield App and security features (e.g. enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), Multifactor Authentication for banks and set up transaction limits for internet banking transactions, including PayNow). 

CHECK – For scam signs with official sources (e.g. ScamShield WhatsApp bot @ https://go.gov.sg/scamshield-bot, call the Anti-Scam Helpline on 1800-722-6688, or visit www.scamalert.sg). Never install software from unverified sources as they may be remote access software allowing others to observe what you do on your device or even take control of it. Additionally, you should never allow others to watch you enter your personal particulars or bank login details. 

TELL – Authorities, family, and friends about scams and do not be pressured by the caller to act impulsively. Report the number to WhatsApp and Telegram to initiate in-app blocking and report any fraudulent transactions to your bank immediately.

If you have any information relating to such crimes or if you are in doubt, please call the Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. All information will be kept strictly confidential. If you require urgent Police assistance, please dial ‘999’. 

For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800-722-6688. Fighting scams is a community effort. Together, we can ACT Against Scams to safeguard our community!

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