Singapore

Bank employee praised for foiling Internet love scam


It was business as usual at OCBC Bank's Tampines branch on Aug 30, until a 55-year-old man entered at about 1pm.

He wanted to remit $17,100 to a person in Malaysia, claiming that the money was for the payment of an "anti-terrorism certificate".

He said it was a form required to clear a parcel that was sent to him by an unknown woman from New Zealand, because the parcel was stuck at Kuala Lumpur Customs.

Hearing the man's explanation, customer service manager Joanna Ng Lay Kheng felt that something was amiss.

"No such form exists," she said.

"If the parcel was meant for him, why couldn't it have gone directly to him, instead of going to KL Customs?"

Her quick thinking helped to prevent the man from falling prey to what was later discovered to be an Internet love scam.

Yesterday, Ms Ng, 46, was commended for her vigilance at Bedok Police Division, and presented with a certificate of appreciation. After speaking to the victim on the day in question, Ms Ng alerted the bank's fraud team, who then went to the police.

Officers from the Bedok Police Division managed to intercept the remittance and successfully prevented the victim from suffering further losses.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the victim met the woman, said to be from New Zealand, on a social networking site, and developed a romantic relationship with her in the past month.

In all, the victim transferred more than $25,000 during this period.

Commander of Bedok Police Division, Assistant Commissioner of Police Tan Tin Wee, praised Ms Ng for her timely intervention.

"It is indeed heartening to see the strong working partnership between the police and the community," he said.

"The vigilance displayed by Ms Ng is commendable."

The case comes on the back of a rise in the number of Internet love scams.

In the first half of this year, the number of such cases jumped by 26 per cent to 349 cases, from 277 cases in the same period last year. The total amount involved increased by 97.3 per cent to $22.1 million in the first half of this year, from $11.2 million a year ago.

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