Global Scams

SINGAPORE: One family lost over S$150,000 after malware was installed on their device when they tried to buy organic eggs. The money was taken from four separate bank accounts and a credit card.

Moreover, the father of the family, identified in a Dec 27 CNA report only as “Mr Singh”, says he did not receive any notifications, alerts, or requests for one-time-passwords (OTP) from the banks where he has accounts. He is now also asking the banks to at least take some responsibility for the losses he and his family have incurred.

The money that had been stolen from the Singhs had been put away to fund a number of family needs: their housing loan, university expenses for the children, medical costs for the 81-year-old family member, as well as the parents’ retirement.

And now their savings have been wiped out, a devastating blow to the Singhs. Mr Singh described his reaction to seeing the zeros in his accounts as going into “A state of shock like I had become a zombie. I didn’t know what to do.”

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As for his wife, she broke down when they went to the police station to lodge a report, and Mr Singh says that the losses have caused her to continue to break down. She has been suffering from depression ever since they were scammed.

The family’s situation has become so dire that they can no longer pay the salary of their helper, who has been with them for 16 years. She even recently offered her ATM card so they could pay for their groceries.

It has been a particularly dismal holiday season for the Singhs. Right now, they are getting through by borrowing money from relatives for their expenses.

The scam began innocently after Mrs Singh saw an ad on Facebook for organic eggs. She and her husband placed an order together on Nov 26, which redirected them to a WhatsApp chat, where they messaged with “Jason,” the alleged seller of the eggs.

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Jason asked the couple to make a deposit on their order of 60 eggs. He sent them a link for downloading an app, and when they had done so, the app went to a payment page that looked like a UOB payment page.

However, when Mr Singh logged in with his UOB account details, it registered as a failed transaction. After he told Jason about this and wanted to cancel his order, the “seller” told him he would deliver the eggs the following day.

The next day, UOB called him regarding a credit card transaction, which Mr Singh had never made. Upon checking his accounts, he discovered his savings were all gone.

CNA reports that a series of outgoing S$15,000 transactions had been made on Mr Singh’s UOB account, and almost S$30,000 was taken from his account with DBS.

But he is also wondering why even his credit card details and the details of his other bank accounts had been accessed by the scammers when he had never given them out.

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“The banks should take responsibility, at least partial responsibility. I’m not the one who went down and withdrew the money and gave it to the scammer … I wasn’t even aware this thing was happening,” he told CNA, adding that he had trusted the banks to keep his money safe and that they should have been able to do more to prevent the scammers from taking their money. /TISG

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