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Retiree scammed of over S$64,000 in Singapore: Man who received the money on trial for misappropriation

In a Singapore tech scam, a retiree was victimized, losing over S$64,000 to a fake tech support technician.

The scammer transferred the money to two unfamiliar bank accounts, leading to a trial for Singapore permanent resident Anil Tripathi, who faces allegations of dishonest misappropriation.

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SINGAPORE: A retiree fell victim to a tech support scam, leading to the misappropriation of more than S$64,000 (US$46,729) after a fake tech support technician took control of his computer.

The money was later found to have been transferred to two bank accounts held by an unfamiliar individual.

Under the impression that the money was given by a “well-wisher,” the recipient proceeded to redistribute it among his bank accounts and sent more than S$15,000 to his home country of India.

The recipient, Anil Tripathi, a 51-year-old Singapore permanent resident, went on trial on Monday (Oct 16) for one count of dishonest misappropriation of funds that were not his.

He insisted that he had not engaged in any unlawful activity and decided to conduct his own trial, with the assistance of a Hindi interpreter, rather than hiring a lawyer.

The prosecution stated in their opening statement that Anil had dishonestly misappropriated over S$15,000 from the funds transferred to two of his bank accounts in June 2020, according to CNA.

Retiree describes how tech scammers targeted him

 The retiree, Chiam Hock Leong, 68-year-old, described how he had been lured into the scam, sharing that he received a call from “Shawn,” who claimed to be from Microsoft, on June 3, 2020.

“When I wanted to switch off my computer to go and have brisk walking exercise with my wife, the computer turned blank, and then there were a lot of words running,” he said.

“And there’s a voice telling me that your computer is crashing, someone is trying to hack into your accounts, please call this number at Microsoft.”

Filled with anxiety over the possibility of his computer malfunctioning, he dialled the provided number.

On the other end, a man with an Indian accent who identified himself as “Shawn” from Microsoft picked up the call.

“He said – now you know why you pay so much to buy software because when someone is scamming into your computer, we are here to stop it. So let us stop this person from scamming your computer,” said Mr Chiam.

 He had his bank account numbers and passwords stored on his computer, which became the entry point for the scammer.

 Panicked by the prospect of his computer crashing, Mr. Chiam obeyed the scammer’s instructions, unknowingly compromising his account information.

Mr. Chiam explained that he spent two to three hours on the phone with “Shawn,” who seemed very friendly.

“Shawn” shared a personal story about being stationed at Cecil Street, his father’s military injury, and their venture to the United States to open a convenience store.

Mr. Chiam didn’t realize that the conversation was part of a scam; he believed it was merely a friendly chat.

After a while, feeling hungry as his wife prepared dinner, Mr. Chiam was informed by “Shawn” that the computer needed to remain on overnight due to the complexity of the problem.

However, Mr. Chiam’s suspicion grew, prompting him to turn on his mobile phone, contrary to the scammer’s instructions.

This led to a series of bank notifications revealing unauthorized transactions that had drained his bank account.

Panicked and “traumatized,” Mr. Chiam contacted his bank and sought advice from his son-in-law, who recommended unplugging the computer, and taking action to mitigate the damage caused by the scam.

Mr. Chiam promptly reported the incident to the police that same day on Jun 3, 2020, but not all the stolen funds could be recovered, as reported by CNA.

Recipient thought the money was transferred by a “well-wisher”

It was revealed that the funds had been sent to two bank accounts, owned by Anil Tripathi, a Singaporean permanent resident.

While the police recovered about S$49,000 from Anil’s accounts, the remaining amount of more than S$15,000 could not be found.

Anil had allegedly transferred some of the amount to India, and he was on trial over dishonestly misappropriating this amount.

Mr. Tripathi now faces trial on a charge of dishonestly misappropriating more than S$15,000 from the ill-gotten funds.

During the trial, the prosecution argued that Anil had acted dishonestly by redistributing the stolen money among his bank accounts, making cash withdrawals, and transferring nearly S$16,000 to India.

The prosecution stressed that Anil had no reasonable basis to believe the money was rightfully his and highlighted his explanation that he thought they were gifts from an unnamed “well-wisher.”

Debate on handling “stolen” funds

District Judge Koo Zhi Xuan questioned the prosecution about the appropriate course of action for Anil upon receiving the stolen funds.

The prosecution argued that Anil should have verified the source of the transfers and reported the incident to the bank or the police rather than redistributing the money.

Although the prosecutor asserted that there was no concrete evidence linking Anil to the scam, he drew a comparison, suggesting that this situation was akin to finding a wallet on the ground.

In such cases, even when one knows the wallet doesn’t belong to them, the least they should do is refrain from touching the money, explained Deputy Public Prosecutor Gan Ee Kiat.

At the time when the fraudulent transfers occurred, Anil had only S$5 and S$62 in his two bank accounts.

“He doesn’t have a basis for thinking the money is his, especially the magnitude of the money we see,” said Mr Gan.

When the judge inquired if Anil should have reported the situation to the police, Mr Gan insisted that, at the very least, Anil should not have transferred the money between his bank accounts.

“He should have contacted the bank, if not the police, or at least call the bank to make a report that he had received these transfers, for the bank to verify that the transfers were legitimate,” said Mr Gan.

The second witness for the prosecution, Deputy Superintendent Lim Kok Seong, questioned Anil and asked why he had withdrawn the money without conducting any checks.

In Anil’s statement, he said: “I thought some well-wisher helping me, that’s why I withdrew some money to repay the loan I owe my friends in India.”

He maintained that he had not disclosed his bank account details to anyone and was not facing financial difficulties.

When questioned about how the funds had entered his accounts, Anil responded with uncertainty, saying, “How can I know, sir.”

He expressed his willingness to return the approximately S$49,000 that had been seized to Mr Chiam and to make amends for the remainder of the missing funds.

The trial is ongoing, and Anil Tripathi could face a jail term of up to two years, a fine, or both if found guilty of dishonest misappropriation.

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Convicted scammers should be given max strokes of caning, long jail sentence. Since kidnappers and drug traffickers can get death in SG, so should convicted scammers.

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CECA scumbag and liar also. Hope he get maximum jail term and PR cancelled send back to puik land.

Typical CECA vermin.
Deport the scum back to the shithole he came from.

Ignorance is Not An Excuse, under The Law.

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