With one call, phishing scammer empties Singapore woman’s life savings: daughter

File photo of woman holding a mobile phone. Photo: Jon Vasec
File photo of woman holding a mobile phone. Photo: Jon Vasec

A woman is trying to recover a hefty amount of money saved by her mother for decades that she said was stolen by someone impersonating a DBS bank employee.

Labina Fariah said today she has reached out for assistance from an official liaison to India, where money worth over S$50,000 is believed to have been siphoned by someone following one simple phone call. 

All these will take time and I am not sure if we will ever get my mother’s money back. I have been trying my best to see which are the channels I can go through,” she wrote on Facebook, two days after she went public with her mother’s situation in a now-viral post.

She also said that Singapore’s DBS Bank, which holds her 60-year-old mother’s account, was investigating the matter.

Her mother, Arjuman Ara, received a Viber call Monday afternoon from a man who said he worked for DBS, according to her police complaint included with the post. He asked for her bank account details, saying he needed the information to update her “bank data.” 

Ara gave her user ID and password to the man. She soon noticed that her account limit for overseas transfers had gone up to S$90,000. 

“After which, I don’t really pay attention to my mobile phone. When I received sms text to state that my Digital Token on my mobile device have been successfully set up. My increased of my oversea funds transfer limit to S$90,000 done on 13/01,” her statement read.

Money from her account was transferred into four different bank accounts in India, under the names Sunita, Nutan Devo, Santosh Kumar and Shila Devi.

According to the statement, S$55,000 (US$41,000) in total was remitted to the four accounts.

Ara was notified to the transfers by email and immediately reported them to Labina. They both went to the DBS Bank branch at the Westgate shopping mall in Jurong East and reported the matter to a legit bank staffer. 

Labina said that her mother was only left with S$99 in her account, where she had slowly built her savings since 1993.

Her post was shared more than 5,000 times as of Thursday afternoon.

In response to inquiries from Coconuts Singapore, DBS Bank spokeswoman Sze Lynn did not confirm that the bank was investigating the matter. 

However, she repeated the usual admonition that bank employees would never “request for our customers to download software, disclose their Internet Banking access credentials (such as username or password, OTP, Digital Token approval), or to conduct any fund transfers.” 

Customers who notice any suspicious or unusual activity in their accounts can contact hotline 1-800-111-1111, she added.


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