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OCBC phishing scam: Another youth pleads guilty to role in causing S$12.8m in losses, lying to police

SINGAPORE — A 19-year-old youth, who was involved in a money laundering gang with eight others aged from 17 to 21, helped to pull off 768 OCBC phishing scams and caused the victims to lose a total of about S$12.8 million.

A teenager used his Singapore bank account to receive money from a syndicate and withdrew the criminal proceeds when asked to do so.
A teenager used his Singapore bank account to receive money from a syndicate and withdrew the criminal proceeds when asked to do so.
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  • A 19-year-old youth pleaded guilty to three charges of assisting in money laundering activities and supporting a scam syndicate for an OCBC bank phishing scam
  • He also lied to a police officer during investigations
  • He is one of several individuals aged 17 to 21 who have been charged in relation to the OCBC scam
  • More than 760 victims suffered a total loss of about S$12.8 million due to the scam
  • District Judge Kessler Soh called for a pre-sentencing report to assess if the youth is suitable for probation and reformative training 

SINGAPORE — A 19-year-old youth, who was involved in a money laundering gang with eight others aged from 17 to 21, helped to pull off 768 OCBC phishing scams and caused the victims to lose a total of about S$12.8 million. 

He is the sixth teenager from the gang to be convicted. To date, two have been sentenced and the rest have cases pending before the court.

The gang helped unknown individuals believed to be linked to overseas syndicates to gain control of bank accounts belonging to victims.

On Wednesday (April 19), the youth pleaded guilty to charges that comprise giving false information to a public servant, as well as those under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.

He cannot be named because he was under 18 years old at the time of the offence. The Children and Young Persons Act bans the publication of the identities of young offenders.

Due to his young age, District Judge Kessler Soh called for a probation and reformative training report before sentencing to assess his suitability for both. 

Probation is usually offered to young offenders between the ages of 16 and 21. The sentence does not result in a recorded criminal conviction, and offenders will be able to continue with their education or employment while serving their sentence.

Reformative training is a regimented rehabilitation programme for offenders under 21 who commit relatively serious crimes.

He is set to be sentenced on June 20.


On their part, the gang members would send SMS messages to victims via mobile phones, pretending to be OCBC bank.

The message would contain fake banking-related matters and a website link leading to a fake OCBC bank login page.

Victims would then enter their electronic banking login credentials and one-time passwords on the fake login page.

These credentials allowed unknown scammers to access and gain control of the victims’ bank accounts.

Then, the scammers would change the victims’ login details and contact information linked to the accounts without the victims’ authorisation. 

This will cause the victims to completely lose control of their accounts, and the scammers can transfer money out of the accounts to Singapore and overseas bank accounts without their authorisation.


On Dec 28 in 2021, one of the gang members received a call from a member of an overseas syndicate asking for a bank account urgently to receive money.

Another member of the gang, who overheard the conversation, asked the convicted youth to offer his bank account to receive and withdraw money amounting to S$30,000.

The youth was not sure if it would be safe to do that but he eventually gave in after being persuaded, and said that this was the only time he would help because he did not want to get involved in any illegal activities. 

When they met at SingPost Centre in Paya Lebar to withdraw the money the next day, the gang member used the youth’s mobile phone and DBS bank debit card to request two more bank cards on a video teller machine. 

A video teller machine has enhanced live-video capabilities and users may speak face-to-face with a customer service officer during certain hours.

After the youth's account received more money transfers, they both ended up withdrawing a total of S$51,090 in criminal proceeds. 


Later on the same day, two other members from the gang asked the youth to help them withdraw money as well.

They informed him that his bank account would likely be frozen after doing that and he would be investigated by the police.

However, they reassured him that they would help him if he was called up for police investigations. 

Court documents stated that after some persuasion, he agreed due to peer pressure.

He then helped them to withdraw a total sum of S$20,000 the next day.

Later, he was contacted by one of the gang members for a similar task, but he rejected the request and ended the call. 

He then received another request from another person within the gang to withdraw some money. He tried to evade the task but could not, so he ended up applying for two more bank cards from a video teller machine.

He then gave the cards to the guy, and he knew at the time that his bank accounts would be used by the gang to receive money and for withdrawals.


On Jan 13 last year, the youth attended an interview with Inspector Low Yee Fong of the Singapore Police Force. 

During the interview, he was questioned about the transactions in his bank accounts. 

He falsely stated that he had made the withdrawals on behalf of an unknown agent. 

He also lied that he placed about S$51,090 in cash in a white supermarket plastic bag, and later placed the plastic bag behind a toilet bowl located at Haig Road Hawker Centre. 

Eventually, though, he admitted to lying so that he could protect the gang. 

As a result of his false statement, the police reviewed the surveillance footage for about eight hours accumulatively over a week to determine whether his claims were true.

The police also had to conduct more interviews with him to find out what was done with the money that had been withdrawn. 


Separately in June 2021, the youth connected with an individual known only as “Bruno” on the Telegram chat application, who asked if he was willing to sell his automated teller machine (ATM) card for fast cash.

Bruno offered him S$250 for every bank account that he could offer.

The youth agreed to Bruno’s offer and sourced for bank accounts from his friends, even though he knew that the accounts would be used for money laundering. 

On July 10 in 2021, the youth called his secondary school friend to open a bank account in his name and give him full control of the account in exchange for S$150 monthly.

He then added the friend to a Telegram chat group consisting of Bruno and three other schoolmates. 

Bruno instructed his schoolmates to buy a SIM card, which would be linked to a bank account, and they did so.

This group of friends met Bruno two days later at Paya Lebar MRT Station. 

Bruno gave them cash to open bank accounts and they then handed their ATM cards and internet banking passwords to him. 

In court on Wednesday (April 19), Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Jason Chua sought a pre-sentencing report to assess the youth’s suitability for reformative training.

This is due to his young age, the seriousness of the offences and the need for deterrence, DPP Chua said. 

Given the seriousness of the offences, probation would not be appropriate due to its relatively modest deterrent effect, he added.

Defence counsel Richway Ponnampalam sought probation for his client, saying that the youth was 17 years old at the time of the offence. 

He also spoke on the youth’s role in the OCBC scam, which he said was only as a conduit to the syndicate, and that the youth did not know about the scam.

Additionally, there was also the element of peer pressure, the lawyer said. “As a 17-year-old dealing with older gangsters, he was afraid of what would happen if he said no.

“Considering everything else and the surrounding circumstances, my client is extremely remorseful once he realised he was influenced by these older gangsters. That’s why he furnished the first police report… and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.”

Mr Ponnampalam added that this was his client’s first brush with the law and that the youth wants to change. 

District Judge Soh said that he agreed with the defence on considering probation and ordered a probation and reformative training report to be submitted. 

Anyone convicted of assisting another person in retaining the benefits from criminal conduct or committing an offence under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act can be jailed up to 10 years or fined up to S$500,000, or both.

Related topics

crime court OCBC phishing scam

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