Bank staff among those hailed for preventing online love scam
For three months, the victim, who could speak only Mandarin, had to use Google Translate each time she sent a message to her online Malaysian boyfriend. She had met the man, known as Waybe Chong, on Instagram.
After the relationship progressed onto WhatsApp, Chong told the woman, who is in her 40s, that he had bought $10,000 worth of luxury items such as clothes and bags for her.
But he needed money to get the items past customs.
So, the woman went to the OCBC Bank at Nex mall on Sept 26 to transfer the money.
Luckily, two staff members of the bank saved her from what turned out to be a scam.
Yesterday, Ms Sheila Chow and Ms Andrea Ng were two of the nine people who received the Public Spiritedness Award at the Ang Mo Kio Police Division.
Recalling the incident, Ms Chow, 26, a bank teller, said she grew suspicious after the victim approached her to do a telegraphic transfer to an overseas account.
Ms Chow told reporters: "She could not answer my questions when I asked how she knew the recipient of the transfer. At first she said she bought something online, then she said it was her boyfriend."
Ms Chow handed the customer over to a service officer, Ms Ng, who discovered that the victim had already transferred $2,000 to the man for parcel fees.
He was now asking for another $1,500.
Ms Ng, 48, said: "I knew it was a scam when I saw the picture of a badly faked customs form the scammer sent her."
Ms Ng eventually took the victim to a police station to lodge a report.
Another award recipient, Ms Laureta Maricris Casicas, 39, also stopped a scam.
The 7-Eleven field manager was working the outlet at Block 318B Anchorvale Link on Oct 15 when a man in his late 20s caused a commotion at the counter, while taking instructions from someone over the phone.
Ms Laureta said: "He was anxious and very nervous to talk or answer my questions."
The victim, an Indian national, was told by a scammer to buy $2,500 worth of iTunes gift cards to secure a job here.
If he didn't, he would be sent back to India, the scammer had told him.
The scammer had identified himself as a government official and instructed the victim not to speak to anyone when he entered the store.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Zhang Weihan, commander of Ang Mo Kio Police Division, said: "We are heartened by how our community partners have aligned their interests with us, lending their support through their staff and helping the police prevent crimes."