Customer service officer commended for foiling scams
Her job usually requires her help people to send and receive money overseas.
Yet within eight months,
Mrs Richelle Ang, a senior customer service officer at Western Union, has helped save some of her clientele from being ripped off.
Thanks to Mrs Ang's keen eye, she managed to successfully stop two scams.
The unusual behaviour of the potential victims led Mrs Ang to suspect something was amiss and advised them to get help from the police.
"It's not something that is easy to detect," said Mrs Ang, who works at the Ang Mo Kio branch.
For her efforts, she has been commended by the police for her part in foiling the online scams.
Online scams such as credit-for-sex and online love scams pushed the crime rate up in 2015.
Mrs Ang's first encounter was in September last year.
A teenage boy wanted to transfer money to a female "friend" whom he had met online.
"He kept walking in and out and looked very anxious. He wouldn't stop glancing at his phone," added Mrs Ang.
Following protocol, she asked the young man if he had ever met this "friend" and whether he trusted her.
Eventually he confessed that he had never met her and that she was blackmailing him.
After flirty exchanges over a webcam with the teen, the "friend" had persuaded him to expose himself to her. She claimed to have recorded him and used the threat of broadcasting the footage to extort money.
He wanted to transfer $150, but Mrs Ang tried to convince the teen that the scammer would not stop at one payment.
"I told him: 'She is going to continue to bleed you dry. Then what are you going to do to get money? Steal?'"
The teen was convinced, swallowed his fear and made a police report.
Mrs Ang stopped another scam this month.
A 62-year-old woman asked to transfer money for a parcel that was stuck at customs.
That was a red flag in itself, especially since the woman was in doubt of the transaction.
Red flag number two was discovering that the money was going to Malaysia and not Singapore.
The parcel was said to be filled with valuable items and required the her to transfer more than US$5,000 ($6,900). - an oddly large sum as parcels of that kind only usually cost between $500 and $700.
It had all the hallmarks of a very common scam.
Mrs Ang refused to let the transaction through and advised the woman to go to the police. But the woman seemed hesitant.
Later the same day, the client returned and spoke to Mrs Ang's colleague. The colleague recognised the woman and consulted Mrs Ang. Again, the transaction was not approved.
The woman was oddly insistent that she wanted to make the transaction and it took Mrs Ang and her colleague some time to convince the woman to make a police report.
Her Senior Branch Manager, Ms Chew Gim Lee, said: "We work very closely with the police to prevent scams and we are very proud of Richelle."
Mrs Ang attributes her vigilance and knowledge of potential scams to the community engagement efforts of the police.
They have been actively educating the public in recognising and how to avoid scams.
Station Inspector of Ang Mo Kio South Neighbourhood Police Centre and Deputy Officer-In-Charge Of Community Policing Unit, Loy Yoke Giin said: "The police work closely with our community and stakeholders to combat crime.
"We are thankful for the strong support and will continue to strengthen this collaboration to raise public awareness and lower scam-related crimes."
SIGNS OF A SCAM
- Receiving an e-mail from a questionable address.
- A deal that sounds too good to be true.
- Promises to earn large sums of money with little effort
- The scammer is unable to provide proof of his identity
...transfer money to people you have not met.
...provide personal information to strangers.
...agree to make purchases before checking on someone's authenticity.
Cheating involving E-Commerce
2014: 1665 cases. $1.8 million cheated.
2015: 2173 cases. $1.76 million cheated.Credit-for-Sex Scams
2014: 66 cases. $118k cheated
2015: 1137 cases. $2.9 million cheated.
2014: 198 cases. $8.8 million cheated
2015: 383 cases. 12 million cheated.