OCBC Bank staff save business owner from love scam
When OCBC Bank employees saw a distressed woman trying to transfer $2,500, their first thought was: She is a scam victim.
After speaking to her for 40 minutes, they convinced her not to send the money and to make a police report.
Yesterday, OCBC branch teller Yao Liang Bing, 26, and customer service manager June Seah, 38, received appreciation awards from the police.
They were commended for helping the woman, identified as Madam Ng, a 43-year-old business owner and mother of four children aged three to 13.
Madam Ng said in a conference call that she met a man, who claimed to be a Korean named Owen Park living in London, on Facebook last week.
She said: "He sent me long messages when he was down and I had to comfort him."
Madam Ng insisted her case should not be classified as a love scam, saying: "I am an auntie with four kids. Who would want to hit on me?"
She nearly fell for the man's scam on March 8 when he said he wanted to send gifts- which included an Apple MacBook, bags, shoes and a Sony PlayStation 4, and $20,000 - to her and her kids.
Madam Ng said she accepted the gifts after he agreed to let her donate 10 per cent of the $20,000 to a cancer foundation.
But she needed to remit $2,500 to an OCBC account as "customs clearance fee" for the parcel, which was "stuck" at Malaysian customs.
Ms Yao, who has been with the branch for less than a year, found it odd that a government agency would request for funds to be transferred to a personal bank account.She alerted Ms Seah.
Ms Seah said: "Instincts told me it was a scam. We knew we had to stop her from doing the transfer because once it was done, it would be very difficult to get the money back."
Police statistics showed victims lost a record $37 million to love scams last year.
OCBC employees had previously saved customers from falling prey to love scams.
Yesterday, Commercial Affairs Department director David Chew, 52, said: "As the first point of contact with the victim, Ms Yao and Ms Seah had successfully saved her from not just losing the initial $2,500, but future financial loss and distress if the scam had continued."
Madam Ng said her husband found out about the incident only after she made a police report. She said: "We should keep an open mind when making new friends. But when monetary transactions are involved, you have to be extra careful."