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‘Anyone would let their guard down’: 62-year-old man loses more than S$40,000 in CPF savings to malware scam

After communicating back and forth on WhatsApp, Mr Ang told the scammer he wanted to give up buying the seafood and go to sleep as it was about 11pm. 

“He said ‘No problem, the S$5 is in, I’ll definitely send you the goods. You can just pay for the seafood when it arrives,’” Mr Ang continued. 

MULTIPLE TRANSFERS THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT

“After that, I thought I was very clever. I went into my phone settings to try and restrict the permissions for the app that was downloaded into my phone, and I thought everything would be fine.” 

He also tried deleting the app, but did not succeed. 

When he woke up at about 6am the next morning, he discovered multiple messages from DBS, indicating that a bunch of transfers had been made from his account throughout the night. 

Each transfer was not more than S$5,000, and there were more than 10 transactions made via PayNow between 1.30am to 4.30am. 

“I quickly called the bank to check if it’s true that a lot of money was transferred out of my account. I asked if there was still money in my account, and they said I still had about S$10,000 inside,” Mr Ang said in Mandarin. 

“So I thought, actually I have around that amount in my account. So something was not quite right, since it didn’t seem like there was any money that got transferred out.” 

He asked the bank to block his bank account, and they suggested he make a police report. He went to Bedok Police Station to do so on Jun 1. 

The investigation officer later called him to ask for a more detailed statement from his bank and that was when Mr Ang found out that the scammer had transferred more than S$40,000 from his CPF account to his bank account, and then transferred it out. 

“At that moment, I was very heartbroken. Why did the money just disappear without reason?” he added. 

Unlike in other scams, the scammer did not ask for any passwords or essential login information, which is part of why Mr Ang did not think anything was amiss. 

He also did not realise that the money had been transferred out from his CPF account because he could only see the notification about the transfer in the CPF app and his email. 

“But if you don’t take note of this, I can’t be checking my CPF account or email every second of the day. I don’t think I go into my CPF app more than once a year.” 

He also made the mistake of writing down his passwords and other login details in a note-taking app on his phone, he shared. 

“Maybe that’s how they found my details,” he added, stressing that others should learn from his mistake. 

“We all have a lot of passwords these days. If you use an easy password, you’re scared they’ll be able to guess it. But if you use a lot of passwords, you really can’t remember them all and have to check every time you use it,” he said with a chuckle. 

Reflecting on his experience, Mr Ang cautioned older people: “What we learned last time can’t beat the scammers of today. They’ve developed a lot. 

“The best defence is not touching these online things at all. You can look at it, but don’t get sucked in. We often think about other scams in the media, and after you hear about it a lot, you feel numb to it. But when you meet it, the way each scammer operates is different, so you might fall for it.” 

ONLINE USERS CAN BE BETTER PROTECTED

He also hopes that social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, as well as banks, can come up with more safety measures to deter scammers. 

“On the bank’s side, the settings are very easy to change. I’ve tried it before. Once I decide to transfer the money, the money goes out,” he added. 

“After the money goes out, the bank notifies you about the transfer. But at that point, the money has been transferred, so you can’t get it back. I hope the bank can consider this when putting safety measures in place.” 

While additional confirmation or verification measures may be more troublesome, it could be safer for users, he added. 

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