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Bakery worker loses S$111,000 via malware scam after downloading app for durian tour

A bakery worker, Ms Lie, lost a staggering S$111,000 after being lured by a Facebook ad for a durian tour.

Large sums were later siphoned off from her DBS account, without her knowledge, redirected to various unfamiliar banks.

The spate of malware scams, which has led many to lose their life savings, sparked Workers’ Party chairman, Sylvia Lim to question whether banks should bear full responsibility for reimbursing victims of scams that aren’t driven by greed or ignorance.

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As Singapore’s digital ecosystem continues to evolve, so does its vulnerabilities. A series of sophisticated malware scams, targeting unsuspecting victims, has come to light, with the most recent involving a part-time bakery worker, Ms Lie.

This incident and others have ignited a nation-wide debate regarding the onus of banking institutions in scam cases.

Ms Lie’s distressing experience began with a seemingly innocent lure: a Facebook advertisement offering a $28 durian day-tour to Kulai, Malaysia, organized by “GD Travel & Tour”.

With fond memories of a similar tour in 2022, she was naturally drawn to the advertisement. The conversation shifted to WhatsApp, where she engaged with a “seller” who appeared genuine, had a convincing Malaysian accent, and seemed well-versed with the details of the tour.

What made the scam particularly devious was the seller’s recommendation for Ms Lie to download an app named EG Store.

Portrayed as a gateway to special tour offers, this app clandestinely introduced malware into her phone. This malware, operating discreetly, eventually granted the scammers access to her banking information.

A week post this engagement, Ms Lie encountered barriers when accessing her DBS Internet banking app. Her subsequent discovery, with the aid of her son Mr Teo, was harrowing.

Large sums had been siphoned off from her DBS account, redirected to various unfamiliar banks. The financial ramifications were profound, as the stolen amount, accumulated over decades, was designated for her retirement and her son’s impending wedding.

DBS, in its response, expressed a robust commitment to support such scam victims. The bank disclosed its intent to enhance its preventive measures, including rolling out advanced anti-malware tools in its digital banking app.

Parliamentary Debate: Banks or Customers – Who Should Bear the Brunt?

The backdrop of a spate of malware scams set the stage for a fervent debate in Parliament. Leading the charge was Workers’ Party chairman, Sylvia Lim, who tabled a compelling adjournment motion last Monday (18 Sep) suggesting that banks should bear full responsibility for reimbursing victims of these scams.

Central to Ms Lim’s argument was the evident surge in malware scams, specifically targeting Android users.

She pinpointed the perceived inadequacies in the current banking security infrastructure, arguing that consumers, especially the vulnerable segments like the elderly, were unfairly exposed to such threats.

Ms Lim’s proposal emphasized the introduction of stringent measures, like the re-adoption of physical tokens for two-factor authentication, thereby adding an extra layer of security.

She also highlighted global benchmarks, referencing the UK’s banking model. The UK approach, she noted, mandates banks to actively deter scams from the onset, which in turn has resulted in fewer fraud incidents.

Ms Lim’s most poignant critique was aimed at post-scam banking procedures. She elucidated how victims often grappled with bank settlements that were grossly imbalanced.

Low goodwill payments and one-sided non-disclosure agreements exemplified the power disparity between individual victims and mammoth banking institutions.

Ms Lim fervently called for the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to champion a more equitable approach in mediating such disputes.

Contrasting Ms Lim’s standpoint was Mr Alvin Tan, Minister of State for Trade and Industry who responded to her proposal.

While he acknowledged the severity of the situation, his argument revolved around the principle of shared responsibility.

He opined that complete restitution, without evaluating individual responsibility, could inadvertently nurture complacency among consumers.

Mr Tan elucidated the myriad efforts undertaken by MAS, including the implementation of multi-factor authentication measures.

He stressed the importance of consumers playing an active role in their cybersecurity, stating, “Even with enhanced security, scammers can still bypass the digital security measures.”

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The common thread is that scammers have been able to increase the withdrawal limits and clean up the bank accounts once they have control. Banks should have a lock in on the daily withdrawal limit and any increase should be allowed only through a personal visit at a bank branch to effect any increase. But this requires banks to invest in better cyber security and bank customers accepting the inconvenience of having to go visit a bank branch to increase the daily withdrawal limit. It also means waiting times at bank branches will be longer. But, this move means customers… Read more »

Individuals who voluntarily send money to scammers should bear full responsibility for their foolishness.
Money that the scammer took from the victims bank account is the bank’s fault because the bank digital system is not robust enough and the bank is fooled to let the scammer take the money from the victims bank account without the victim’s consent.

See ! After all people in Singapore is not poor leh…

See, just a partime baker has over 100 thousand dollars in the bank !
And this is just in one bank.

And who knows there are many others like her.

Many are pretending to be poor.

Govt is right all along that residents here are rich enough to afford keep paying for the ever increasing taxes !

SG no way to stop Scam? Got way or no way? Why so many years already still unable to secure a tiny population?

What you reading about the product & it was sold to you???
Do you have any card linked to your phone???
Singapore is completely hacked. Shanmugam has done A great job by bringing in all Indians for IT.
It is pretty bad.
Lucky, I got Nigerian friends.

Looks like she got Baked.

Do not use phone as a platform to do everything
The image is small, the internet page is small.
The keypad is small, type with fat fingers and end up in Africa.
Whose fault?
Bank?
Seller?
Internet?

Whose finger hit the “send” button
Whose finger hit the “go” button
Whose finger hit “yes”…??

Whose hand mark ‘X’ on ballot box..?

You choice, Your fault..

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