Fintech firm, cops help victims get money back
Six people duped by scammers claiming to be law enforcement officers
The tactic is a familiar one.
The victim receives a call from the scammer posing as a law enforcement officer, saying that the victim is involved in illegal activity overseas.
The victim is then persuaded to provide the login details of his online bank accounts, or is made to set up Internet banking, to stay out of trouble.
The victim realises he has been conned only after the accounts are emptied.
Due to swift action and close collaboration between the Singapore Police Force's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Xfers, a Singapore-based online payment gateway, six victims of this impersonation scam will be getting their money back.
In May and June 2016, Xfers helped prevent scammers from laundering through it illegal proceeds totalling more than $37,000.
The New Paper understands that of the six victims, aged between 20 and 43, three were Chinese nationals and one a Malaysian. The other two were Singaporeans, one of them a new citizen from China.
No arrests have been made.
Xfers co-founder Samson Leo told the media at an appreciation ceremony yesterday that the company was alerted to the use of its platform when approached by CID's Technology Crime Division.
After gaining access to a victim's bank account, the scammers transferred the money to an Xfers account created on the victim's behalf and managed to coerce the person into providing personal identification to get around the platform's verification requirements.
The scammers had intended to launder the illegal funds by purchasing items, which TNP understands include cryptocurrency, from Xfers' network of merchants before the company intervened.
After being contacted by the CID, Xfers pro-actively flagged and held off fraudulent transactions, reaching out to the police rather than waiting for the victims to report the crimes.
"Had we waited that few days, the victims' money probably would already have been lost," Mr Leo said.
"It was a balance of a chance of fraud or an inconvenience to the customer."
Using Xfers is just one of many ways that the perpetrators of impersonation scams launder their ill-received gains, Senior Investigation Officer Inspector Edwin Choo said.
The key to fighting these cybercrimes is through close private-public collaboration with banks and fintech companies such as Xfers.
Information sharing allows the police to screen suspicious Xfers user accounts against their databases to confirm if a crime has been committed, Inspector Choo said.
On their part, Xfers has also beefed up its user verification process and implemented a tiered system that limits transaction amounts for new users.