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S’pore victim, 70, nearly loses S$370,000 after calling ‘Microsoft helpline’ on pop-up notification – Mothership.SG

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About S$370,000 was recovered for a 70-year-old victim of a technical support scam.

The organizations involved included the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) Anti-Scam Center (ASC), along with DBS bank, the United Overseas Bank (UOB), and the Hong Kong Police Force’s Anti-Deception Coordination Center (ADCC).

Victim calls a number on a pop-up notification

According to a press release by the police, the victim had been surfing the internet on his computer when a pop-up notification appeared.

The victim was unable to close the pop-up notification and called the “Microsoft Helpline” number that was displayed on it.

He was informed that his computer had been “hacked”, and that his bank accounts were being used for illegal activities.

The victim was then re-directed to a “SPF cybercrime unit officer” who alleged that the victim’s bank accounts were used for illegal activities.

Acting on the scammer’s instructions, the victim divulged his bank account credentials, which included his user ID and passwords, to facilitate the “investigation”.

This allowed the scammers to take control of the victim’s bank accounts, resulting in money being transferred out.

First detected through suspicious transactions amounting to S$180,000

The scam was first detected by DBS on Apr. 18, 2024, through suspicious transactions from the victim’s bank account to an account in Hong Kong.

These transactions amounted to about S$180,000.

The DBS Anti-Scam Team immediately blocked further transactions from the victim’s bank account to prevent further losses and notified the ASC.

The ASC then notified the ADCC regarding the beneficiary bank account.

Discovered that the victim also had S$240,000 missing from his UOB bank account

The police said that as the victim was uncontactable, the ASC activated officers from the Ang Mo Kio South Neighborhood Police Centre’s Community Policing Unit to visit the victim’s residence.

However, the victim was not at home.

The ASC then tried other means and managed to reach the victim’s family friend, who disclosed that S$240,000 was missing from the victim’s UOB bank account.

The ASC immediately worked with UOB to suspend the victim’s UOB bank account and traced the funds to a bank account in Hong Kong.

At the same time, the ASC worked with ADCC, successfully recovering the full amount from the bank account in Hong Kong.

What to do if you might have fallen prey to such a scam

SPF advised the public to take the following steps immediately if they believe that they have fallen prey to such scams:

  • Turn off your computer immediately to limit any further activities that scammers can perform,
  • Uninstall any software that you have installed at the instructions of scammers,
  • Perform a full anti-virus scan on your computer and delete any malware detected,
  • Report the incident to your bank to halt further activities relating to your bank account(s),
  • Change your Internet banking credentials and remove any unauthorized payees who may have been added to your bank accounts, and
  • Report the incident to the bank and the Police.

Top image by Pickawood via Unsplash