SINGAPORE: Staff at UOB’s Tampines branch prevented a woman in her 70s from sending S$50,000 in September to a man she claimed was her husband. The staff were suspicious of the transaction, thinking the woman might have never even met this man in person.
The woman, they thought, was a love scam victim. The bank staff stepped in after the woman could not present a marriage certificate. She said that since they had married abroad, her husband had pictures from the wedding and the certificate.
UOB then encouraged the woman to file a police report, The Straits Times said. Mr Denethor Wong, the deputy branch manager at UOB at Tampines, had read the messages from the woman’s purported husband. And while he read affectionate messages, he also saw that the man had attempted to borrow money from the senior citizen, asking her repeatedly if she had already done so.
While she initially heeded UOB’s advice to file a police report, to their surprise, she tried to transfer another S$3000 a fortnight later to another account, saying it was for her birthday. However, the woman’s actual birthday had been months before.
And when the account where she tried to transfer the money was flagged as suspicious, UOB froze the woman’s account. This made her very angry, and she threatened the staff and cried during her frequent visits. Bank staffers eventually convinced the woman not to send money to the man, with Mr Wong involving the police’s Anti-Scam Centre to help as well.
Similarly, DBS officers recently prevented an elderly man from losing thousands in another love scam. DBS shared the story in an Oct 8 Facebook post, beginning with the man, who was described to be in his 70s, repeatedly yelling in frustration the following question: “It’s my money, why can’t I make the transfer?!” The incident occurred at the POSB branch in CompassOne in Sengkang. (DBS is POSB’s parent company.)
The staff correctly determined that the man could have lost considerable money if the scam had pushed through. The two staff members received letters of appreciation from the Singapore Police Force in September 2023 for preventing this scam.
A recent report showed that US$1.02 trillion (S$1.4 trillion) is lost annually around the globe through scams, with one out of every four persons getting victimized. This is equivalent to 1.05 per cent of the global GDP. Interestingly, on average, victims in Singapore have lost the most money. /TISG
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