SINGAPORE: In the course of recent house visits, the Workers’ Party’s Mr Kenneth Foo encountered an elderly woman who had been the victim of a scam. The woman told Mr Foo that she hoped others, especially her fellow senior citizens, would not undergo the same experience.

“I met May, an elderly who was a victim of a scam that caused her to lose part of her hard-earned savings. Since then, she lived in fear due to the ordeal and is always suspicious of unknown calls. Recovering from the trauma, she hopes that more can be done to educate and assist people, especially elders, who are prime targets for scammers,” wrote Mr Foo, who has been working on the ground with the WP team for the past few years.

He then referred to a proposal in Parliament made by WP MP Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) earlier this year related to the elderly woman’s plight.

“Citing UK government as example, WP MP Sylvia Lim called for banks to fully reimburse scam victims through her motion filed in parliament. She also asked for more protection for vulnerable groups and banks to adopt regulatory guidelines for settling consumer disputes. In the first half of 2023, there were over 20,000 reported cases of scam and more should be done to help scam victims,” added Mr Foo.

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Read also: Sylvia Lim calls for banks to reimburse scam victims

In September, Ms Lim, also the party chair, told the House that in light of the increase in reported cases of scams and cybercrimes, banks should take the lead in combating scams instead of placing the responsibility on consumers.

She mentioned that these crimes have grown by 25 per cent year-on-year, for a total of 3,700 cases or 92 reports per day, adding, “On the human level, the suffering caused by such crimes is devastating.”

Scams have gotten more sophisticated, and even young people who are tech-savvy have been victimized by scammers, she added.

Ms Lim said that as an MP, she has met “too many residents” who’ve lost money, some in the hundreds of thousands, which is not likely to be recovered. She added that these losses are not just financial but impact their families, especially those with serious health issues who are vulnerable or are supporting others.

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“Banks should take on an outsized role in preventing (scams). Banks are able to monitor transactions, block suspicious payment flows, and keep abreast of the latest technological developments. Such endeavours are beyond the remit of most bank customers,” she added. /TISG