Bank

Google ad bank scam: Victim recounts how he was tricked out of nearly S$20,000 through a sophisticated scheme

Bank staff told her she should have realized it wasn’t Maybank’s number in Google search, she said, adding that a manager told her she didn’t. wasn’t the first victim, making her feel like it was more common than she thought.

“But for me, how the hell would I know (for the number)? she says, suggesting that the average person wouldn’t memorize bank customer service numbers.

“What is this rubbish? Does this mean that as members of the public, when we put money in the bank, we (are supposed to be) vulnerable to scam?”

Overall, Ms. Wong felt disappointed with the way the bank treated her. “I mean they should be more understanding that I was scammed,” she added.

When asked to comment on the incident, a Maybank spokesperson told CNA that the bank had advised Ms Wong to make a police report, saying the bank was cooperating fully with police investigations.

“Following his report, the bank also filed a police report and notified Infocomm’s Media Development Authority of the blocking of the spoofed phone number, and forwarded the spoofed SMS header to the Anti-Smishing Registry. .”

Smishing refers to sending text messages purporting to be from reputable companies to trick someone into revealing their personal information.

Once scammers get their hands on victims’ funds, they usually transfer the money immediately or within the next few minutes, the spokesperson said, citing the “instant” nature of such transfers.

“By the time customers report a few hours later, the money is long gone,” the spokesperson added.

In the days and months that followed, Ms. Wong felt belittled at home. Her husband and daughter berated her, she said, the latter asking why “mom is so stupid”.

“Even my relatives, they don’t sympathize with me, yet they laugh at me. You suffer, so you are laughed at,” she added, her voice cracking.

SMALL CHANCES

More desperately, Ms Wong said she had yet to hear from the bank whether her money could be recovered. Police told her the odds were slim, she said, adding it could be hundreds of dollars at best.

When the investigating police officer called to ask if she was willing to be interviewed for this story, she thought he had news. When he said it would be a never-ending affair, she said she hoped to get updates in due course.

Ms Wong said she was still doing business with Maybank in hopes of getting her money back, although she admitted the chances were slim.

“For me, even if I don’t get my money back, I hope he (the scammer) gets caught. It’s the least I can do,” she added.

Asked what she thinks of OCBC recently making ‘goodwill payments’ to victims of scams after losing S$13.7million to SMS phishing, Ms Wong said it showed a “flaw” in the banking system as a whole.

“If there is no escape, why is the bank willing to take the hit?” she asked. “Also because the amount (of money lost) is significant. Does Maybank want to wait until the amount increases and more people get ripped off?”

LESSONS LEARNED

Ms Wong thinks Maybank could have done more by issuing public alerts about this particular scam, adding that she has read several reviews and press articles about different scams, but always thought she would never fall for it. trap.

She advised people not to blindly trust phone numbers they see in Google searches and to avoid making internet bank transfers to unknown account numbers.

“Go to the bank personally. It may be a bit more inconvenient, but you won’t get ripped off,” she said, adding that she still doesn’t know why her GrabPay wallet had these issues. .

The Maybank spokesman said online safety for its customers is “important” and the bank has shared preventative measures through various communication channels amid the recent spike in scams.

“Our 1800-MAYBANK helpline number is available on the Maybank Singapore website, at ATMs and on the back of our cards,” the spokesperson said, noting that the bank has implemented the new measures announced in January to strengthen digital banking security.

“We are constantly looking for improvements to protect our customers.”

Towards the end of the interview, Ms Wong asked if a recording of her voice would be released, saying she didn’t want her friends to know she was a victim.

When asked if she felt embarrassed, she said “people aren’t that understanding,” pointing to comments she’s read about victims of the OCBC scam.

“Rather than they feel sorry for themselves, they’ll say, ‘Why is this person so stupid,'” she said.

“I just want to share (my story) so people will be smarter – not just one phone call and all their money will be gone.”