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Retiree in Singapore deceived into investing S$180k with savings and loan

In the past 2 years, at least 5 vulnerable seniors in Singapore, including a 63-year-old retiree, were misled into investing a significant sum of money. Online users urged banks to compensate victims and tighten regulations to prevent exploitation.



SINGAPORE: At least five “vulnerable” seniors in the community fell victim to mis-selling tactics, ultimately leading to financial loss in the last two years.

Among these individuals, one retiree, aged 63, lacking proficiency in English and possessing only primary school education, was deceived into investing a substantial portion of his savings, totaling S$180,000, through a savings and loan scheme, as reported by The Straits Times (ST).

Initially he visited a bank with the intention of renewing his S$100,000 fixed deposit.

However, he was deceived into purchasing a more expensive insurance product, which entailed acquiring an S$80,000 loan despite lacking the means for repayment.

The bank representative allegedly provided false information, assuring him that the product would yield stable retirement income and dismissing repayment concerns by asserting that investment returns would cover them.

Assured of stable retirement income and led to believe that investment returns would offset any loan repayments, the retiree later discovered he had been misled.

After a year of not receiving any income and facing significant loan interest payments, he realized he had purchased an unsuitable product.

His loan repayments increased substantially, and the promised income did not materialize.

He sought assistance from the Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre (Fidrec), which ruled in his favor and directed the bank to compensate him for the mis-selling.

Such cases which involved retirees with limited education and poor English skills illustrate how easily vulnerable seniors can be targeted by unscrupulous sales staff.

Bank ordered to refund retiree in mis-selling dispute

Previously, the bank, which is not named, maintained that there was no mis-selling, citing that the retiree had signed all the documents, indicating awareness of taking a loan to fund the purchased product.

However, the retiree countered, stating that the forms inaccurately represented his education level, income, and experience in investment-linked policies.

During the adjudication process at Fidrec, the bank’s manager failed to attend, and the bank’s provided statement lacked detail and context. For instance, it didn’t clarify whether the retiree received explanations regarding the product or the loan terms.

The adjudicator identified concerning aspects of the sales process, highlighting the lack of disclosure regarding the risks associated with borrowing money to fund the product purchase.

The adjudicator then ruled in favor of the customer, instructing the bank to refund the lost amount and the paid loan interest.

This troubling incident isn’t isolated, with a total of 76 similar cases reported over the past two years, ST reported.

Despite efforts by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to shield vulnerable consumers, instances of mis-selling persist, prompting concerns regarding the efficacy of existing regulations, particularly those requiring additional verification steps for individuals over 62 years old who lack proficiency in spoken or written English, to ensure they fully comprehend the risks and benefits involved.

Online users’ responses 

Looking at the comments on ST’s Facebook post, a considerable portion of users express the belief that banks should indeed provide compensation to victims in such cases.

“The banks must take responsibility as long as the transaction took place in their premises,” one user wrote.

A user who reported experiencing a similar situation advised against placing trust in the “investment” products promoted by banks.

“I was also a victim,” the user stated, elaborating that they were “pressured into buying investment products” despite initially intending to solely establish a fixed deposit at the bank.

Others, however, argue that banks cannot absolve themselves of all responsibility by solely blaming their employees when such transactions occur on their premises.

They advocate for prohibiting such sales within bank premises to ensure customers can conduct their business without disruption.

Meanwhile, another asserted that banks should never be permitted to sell insurance or investments.

They argued that since banks have access to customers’ account balances, such sales should not be permitted in the first place.

Some online commenters in the comment section also noted that incidents like this could occur to individuals regardless of their age or level of education.

“Even educated (people) can get scammed by banks,” remarked one user, who disclosed their own experience as a victim.

“The bank staff claimed I mis-understood her,” the user added, and was told that: “Sir… you already signed on the dotted line.”

Another user also shared their experience, alleging that a bank employee resorted to what they described as “high-pressure selling” tactics while they were simply there to arrange a fixed deposit.


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I really hope that more Singaporean would raise the same concerns to Monetary Authority of Singapore to protect our parents and ourselves : MAS: the scammer is in the bank, they know better than the enforcement unit, knowing what the victims will do and what’s the next move of the enforcement unit … the build up of the strong trust for the banks over the years throughout our lives had made everyone of us extremely vulnerable, especially the elderly who were particularly targeted by these insiders who had access to their individual account to evaluate their decree of vulnerability …… Read more »

Quite co-relatedly to me, when sheeps tell themselves PAP is D best – generous with 101 types of assistances from chichen wings sophistry to $100s of Dollars of giveaways, GST presents, conservancy fees give backs (when it’s ACTUALLY their own trousers, shirts pockets monies over the years and years) – not shocking to say like they really believe a PAP $ can return $1000 in returns. So this is how clever they are to be conned. How is it one X every 5 years can make their flats worth a MILLION BUCKS – they buy the misleading story A HDB… Read more »

Why does MAS allow the sale of these financial investment products? Shouldn’t MAS only allow investments that are safe and can be monitored by them. Scams increase due to a poor regulator. There are Trust Companies using the “MAS Approved,” logo inviting the population to use them in writing Wills and setting up Standby Trusts. This is another Scam as MAS does not monitor the assets in an Estate but only when it is transferred to the Trust. So these Trust companies will add in various costs to decrease the Trust amounts which is not monitored by MAS. Should n’t… Read more »

What is the mentality of these ‘cheated’ retirees. What on earth actually transpire inside their brains when they encounter ‘people attempting to fraud them’ there and then?

Don’t we always read of experts, analysts, so and so telling people of SG their stores in the State Manipulated Press? What say them, critically?

MAS is caught sleeping on the job again.Banks have started to misbehave once again despite previous warning from big boss,who now appears lax in carrying out their usual spot checks.Managements of these bank should be made to account with penalties similar to that imposed by the board of DBS.So sad to witness such nasty things are happening again in our once Sunny Singapore.

SillyPoreans, … truly have a tough tough time.

Not only are “foreign agents/actors” targeting cum scamming super naive SillyPoreans, … they oso have to content and brace themselves for “local” agents/actors too !!!

Suppose, … this is the price for being affluent, discerning and total commitment to online financial setups !!!

First, those officers who used fraudalent means to persuade the seniors into investing should be sacked or even charged with cheating.

Second, the manager of the bank employees involved in this fraudalent behaviour should also be penalised.

Third, the banks should compensate whatever losses were incurred.

Finally, all the banks concerned should be named. Media should not protect any wrongdoing

I used to dress up before going down to the bank. Nowadays, not anymore.