SINGAPORE – In a dramatic turn of events, a vigilant employee of Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore prevented an elderly woman from falling victim to a sophisticated scam that could have cost her more than S$260,000 (US$194,200).
The 79-year-old woman narrowly escaped financial ruin thanks to the quick thinking of Tan Kah Boon, a relationship manager at Standard Chartered Bank, who detected unusual banking behavior and took prompt action to thwart the scammers.
The Singapore Police Force (SPF) revealed details of the incident in a press release on Friday (8 Dec). According to the SPF, the elderly woman received an unsolicited call in September from a scammer impersonating a bank officer.
The fraudulent caller claimed that her bank account had been frozen for investigation and subsequently transferred her to another individual posing as a police official. This second scammer then instructed the woman to report her whereabouts four times a day and warned her not to disclose any information about the ongoing “investigation.”
In a common tactic employed by such scammers, the fake bank officer accused the victim of having outstanding credit card charges linked to criminal or money laundering activities. The second scammer, impersonating a government official, then pressured the victim to provide banking details or open new accounts, all under the guise of assisting with the purported investigations and maintaining secrecy.
Tragically, in November, the elderly woman, under the influence of the scam, sold her unit trust investments held with Standard Chartered Bank, amounting to over S$260,000. The intention was to transfer the funds to a third-party bank account specified by the scammer.
However, the situation took a positive turn when Tan Kah Boon, the vigilant relationship manager at Standard Chartered Bank, noticed the unusual banking behaviour and the significant outgoing transfers to what seemed like a suspicious account.
Recognizing the potential threat, Boon promptly escalated the case to the bank’s anti-fraud team, which, in turn, contacted the Anti-Scam Centre (ASC) for immediate intervention.
Working in collaboration with Standard Chartered Bank’s anti-fraud team, the authorities were able to trace the flow of funds, identifying and subsequently freezing all accounts controlled by the scammers.
This intervention, according to the SPF, prevented the loss of a substantial amount of money and underscored the importance of coordinated efforts between financial institutions and law enforcement agencies in combating scams.
In a statement, the police acknowledged the crucial role played by the Anti-Scam Centre in following up with the victim and alerting her to the fraudulent scheme. The ASC’s close collaboration with financial institutions, such as Standard Chartered Bank, was highlighted as an essential component of the robust defense against scams.
Standard Chartered Bank emphasized its commitment to protecting customers from fraud and scams, detailing proactive measures taken by its anti-fraud team, including regular training for frontline staff to enhance vigilance in fraud detection and prevention.
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