Singapore: Record S$6.7 million recovered from alleged business email scam
09 Oct 2020

With the help of United Overseas Bank (UOB), the police’s Anti-Scam Centre recently recovered more than US$4.91 million (S$6.7 million) stolen from an alleged business email scam — the largest sum recovered since the centre was set up last year.

The police said in a media briefing on Thursday (Oct 8) that UOB and the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation alerted them to a suspected case of money laundering last Saturday.

A foreign bank had contacted UOB with an urgent request to recall US$5 million transferred into a Singapore-based UOB account belonging to a local corporate entity. This local entity, which was not named, is being investigated for its suspected involvement in money-laundering offences.

Preliminary investigations by the Anti-Scam Centre showed that the funds were linked to an alleged “business email compromise” scam, where a fraudster impersonates a firm using a fake corporate email address to defraud victims.

Mr Richard Soh, head of investigation at UOB’s integrated fraud management arm, told reporters that the bank froze the Singapore-based bank account within minutes of the alert.

Apart from recovering more than US$3.9 million, the bank managed to retrieve an extra US$987,000 that had been transferred from the account in Singapore to a UOB account in Malaysia.

Investigations are under way to trace and recover the remaining money.

Mr David Chew, director of the police’s Commercial Affairs Department, said that business email compromise scams have become a huge worldwide problem because of the surge in internet payments.

In the first six months of this year, the police received 209 reports of business email compromise scams that cheated victims in Singapore of at least S$15.9 million.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Geraldine Cheng said that almost daily, the Anti-Scam Centre encounters cases affecting overseas victims that involve money travelling through Singapore.

By Tessa Oh, Today, 8 October 2020

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