Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Record S$6.7 million recovered by police’s Anti-Scam Centre from alleged business email scam

SINGAPORE — With the help of United Overseas Bank (UOB), the police’s Anti-Scam Centre recently recovered more than US$4.91 million (S$6.7 million) stolen in an alleged business email scam — the largest sum recovered since the centre was set up last year.

Mr David Chew (first from left) of the police's Commercial Affairs Department and Assistant Superintendent of Police Geraldine Cheng (first from right) from the Anti-Scam Centre present Mr Richard Soh of United Overseas Bank's integrated fraud management arm with a community partnership award on Oct 8, 2020.

Mr David Chew (first from left) of the police's Commercial Affairs Department and Assistant Superintendent of Police Geraldine Cheng (first from right) from the Anti-Scam Centre present Mr Richard Soh of United Overseas Bank's integrated fraud management arm with a community partnership award on Oct 8, 2020.

Follow us on Instagram and Tiktok, and join our Telegram channel for the latest updates.

SINGAPORE — With the help of United Overseas Bank (UOB), the police’s Anti-Scam Centre recently recovered more than US$4.91 million (S$6.7 million) stolen in an alleged business email scam — the largest sum recovered since the centre was set up last year.

The police said in a media briefing on Thursday (Oct 8) that UOB and the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation alerted them to a suspected case of money laundering last Saturday.

A foreign bank had contacted UOB with an urgent request to recall US$5 million transferred into a Singapore-based UOB account belonging to a local corporate entity. This local entity, which was not named, is being investigated for its suspected involvement in money-laundering offences.

Preliminary investigations by the Anti-Scam Centre showed that the funds were linked to an alleged “business email compromise” scam, where a fraudster impersonates a firm using a fake corporate email address to defraud victims.

Mr Richard Soh, head of investigation at UOB’s integrated fraud management arm, told reporters that the bank froze the Singapore-based bank account within minutes of the alert.

Apart from recovering more than US$3.9 million, the bank managed to retrieve an extra US$987,000 that had been transferred from the account in Singapore to a UOB account in Malaysia.

Investigations are under way to trace and recover the remaining money. 

Mr David Chew, director of the police’s Commercial Affairs Department, said that business email compromise scams have become a huge worldwide problem because of the surge in internet payments. 

In the first six months of this year, the police received 209 reports of business email compromise scams that cheated victims in Singapore of at least S$15.9 million. 

Assistant Superintendent of Police Geraldine Cheng said that almost daily, the Anti-Scam Centre encounters cases affecting overseas victims that involve money travelling through Singapore.

Even so, the volume of such scams is not as high as run-of-the-mill e-commerce scams, although Mr Chew noted that the losses incurred are much greater.

The police advised the public and businesses to be vigilant and wary about business email scams, and take the following steps:

  • Educate staff members to be mindful of sudden changes in payment instructions and bank accounts

  • Make sure that employees verify instructions by calling the email sender, and use phone numbers in their records instead of those provided in the email

  • Raise awareness of such scams among employees, especially those responsible for approving payments and making fund transfers

  • Use strong passwords for company email accounts, change them often and enable two-factor authentication where possible

Firms affected by an email scam should call their banks immediately to recall the funds.

Individuals who wish to provide information on such scams may call the police’s anti-scam helpline on 1800 722 6688 or visit www.scamalert.sg

Related topics

scam email police Anti-Scam Centre UOB

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.