Two scam victims avoided losing over $3 million to scammers who were pretending to be government officials

One of the victim was instructed to transfer a sum of $200,000 every day over two weeks to the scammer’s bank accounts.

The scammer claimed the 76-year-old victim was under investigation for money laundering and gave him two options: a 60-day investigation or a
The scammer claimed the 76-year-old victim was under investigation for money laundering and gave him two options: a 60-day investigation or a "Priority Financial Inspection" that required transferring money to a specified account. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Two men avoided losing over $3 million in separate scam attempts in March due to the quick actions of their banks and the police's Anti-Scam Centre (ASC).

According to a media release issued by the police on Wednesday (17 April), both cases involved scammers pretending to be government officials.

In the first case, a 76-year-old individual was contacted by a scammer posing as a bank staff member, who informed him that his identity was being misused.

The victim was then referred to another scammer impersonating a "police officer from the Singapore Police Force", who falsely claimed that the victim was under investigation for money laundering.

The elderly man was presented with a choice between a standard investigation lasting up to 60 days or a "Priority Financial Inspection" lasting a week, which required him to transfer money to a given account.

In hopes of a faster investigation, the victim complied and transferred more than $127,500 to three different bank accounts provided by the scammer.

When the victim ran out of cash, he wanted to withdraw $98,000 from his Central Provident Fund account to pay the scammer.

UOB detected the suspicious transactions and blocked them. It also escalated the case to ASC. The police added that the officers at ASC engaged with the victim and convinced him that he had fallen prey to a scam.

In the other case, a 52-year-old victim was informed by a scammer impersonating a senior police inspector that he was under investigation. The scammer instructed him to transfer $200,000 every day over a period of two weeks to various bank accounts for the purpose of "inspection and verification."

When the victim deposited a cheque of $500,000 to the account provided by the scammer for inspection, it was detected by DBS Bank's anti-mule team.

The bank immediately placed a hold on the funds and surfaced the case to ASC, which informed the victim that he had fallen prey to a scam. The cheque was stopped by DBS, preventing further losses totalling $2.9 million, the police said.

Precautionary measures to safeguard against scams

The police advised the public to add security features using the ScamShield app and two-factor authentication for personal accounts.

They can also establish transaction limits for internet banking to limit the amount of funds that could be affected through scams.

Individuals should also verify information with official sources like the ScamShield WhatsApp bot and anti-scam helpline and avoid disclosing sensitive personal information on websites or to callers over the phone.

Members of the public are encouraged to inform authorities and others about scams and to report any fraudulent transactions to the bank immediately.

For further information on scams, individuals can visit or contact the anti-scam hotline at 1800-722-6688.

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