These days, there's no longer a need to exchange bank account numbers in order to send or receive money.
With PayNow, anyone can send money instantly and securely, armed with just the mobile number of a recipient.
For one Geraldinep Phoa and her alleged unintended recipient Roger Koh, however, this convenience proved to be a misfortune instead.
Transferred S$500 to wrong phone number
On Nov. 23, Phoa took to Facebook to air her grievances about transferring S$500 to what she says was the wrong phone number via PayNow, adding that she hasn't been able to get her money back.
Here's her post:In the Facebook post, Phoa claimed to have wanted to transfer S$500 to a friend via PayNow when she accidentally keyed in the mobile number of a man named "Koh Yeow Nguang" instead.
As a result, S$500 was apparently transferred to an account belonging to Koh, according to a screenshot of the SMS Phoa claims she received in the transaction, which she sent to the mobile number in messages on WhatsApp:
Phoa said her husband also assisted her in calling Koh about the money.
According to Phoa, Koh did not pick up her husband's calls but responded that he would check if he indeed received the money in the morning.
However, Phoa said Koh blocked both of their numbers on WhatsApp the next day.
Phoa noted that Koh lists himself as "brand owner" of Bak Kut Teh restaurant Big Bones, which has outlets in Singapore, Johor Bahru and the Philippines.
When Phoa's husband went down to the Big Bones outlet in Toa Payoh Lorong 6 to confront Koh, a staff working there reportedly took a photo of him to send to Koh as Koh was not himself present at the stall.
Phoa's husband then called the police, after which the staff member apparently packed up and closed the shop immediately.
Phoa said that she had filed a police report against Koh.
Koh's account of incident
After Phoa published her side of the story, Koh came forward on Sunday morning to share his response.
In his Facebook post, he published a copy of the police report he filed, as well as the details of his experience of what happened.
Here's the sequence of events, as narrated by Koh in his Facebook post and police report — it is worth noting at this point that the name he gives (Koh Yeow Nguang) matches the name that appears in the screenshot SMS sent to Koh by Phoa:
- Koh got two calls from a number he did not recognise and ignored them, but sent a message asking who it was.
- The caller, Phoa's husband, asked him to transfer the wrongly-sent money back to his wife.
- Koh responded "will check tomorrow" and ignored Phoa's husband's requests to attend to it immediately.
- Koh said Phoa's husband called five more times, so he blocked his number.
- Koh also heard from Phoa on WhatsApp but only read her messages in the morning. She, too, called him multiple times overnight.
- Koh said Phoa texted him at about 3pm giving him a deadline to return the money to her. He ignored the message saying he had a meeting that lasted till late afternoon.
- Koh said he thought it was a scam, questioning the timing of the alleged transaction, calls and messages from Phoa and her husband, and claimed he had not signed up for PayNow or PayLah! (another payment transfer service from DBS Bank), hence asking how the transfer could have happened.
- Koh also alleged that Phoa and her husband visited his Toa Payoh hawker stall and harassed his staffer to the point of the latter closing earlier than he was supposed to, because the visitors, whom he had "no idea... were the midnight callers" had called the police to the scene.
- Koh then said his phone battery went flat on Saturday evening. Two hours or so later, he turned it on again to discover a police officer was trying to contact him.
- He spoke to the officer, surnamed Tan, for 30 minutes, and Koh claimed she wanted him to "react and return the money IMMEDIATELY". He described the call and the demand as "totally impartial" and a "total abuse of power".
- Koh told the officer he would need two days to find out which of his bank accounts the money had been transferred to, and then said if he could locate it, he would hand the money to Tanglin Police Station "since it is a police case now".
- But he complained that Phoa in taking to Facebook had "defamed" him because "there wasn't any act of stealing on my part".
Here are his screenshots of his police report, if you'd like to read his account in full — if not, you can skip these to the next part.
In follow-up comments on his post in response to commenters, Koh said he still wasn't sure if he had received the S$500, adding that he did not "know how to check midnight", adding that he "won't react until I have reasonable time to address it" because he is "not a child with no working experience":
He also said he did not receive any text message from the bank indicating a transfer of S$500 into any of his bank accounts, and claimed he has the help of two lawyers on "standby":
Not every bank sends a text message to notify a recipient of completed PayNow or PayLah! transactions, however.
By the way, in the event you discover that funds have been transferred to the wrong account, whether you're the one who sent the money or received it, you should contact the account holder who sent or received it wrongly directly or get in touch with the bank for assistance:
Mothership has also reached out to the Police for more information about the case.
Top image via Geraldinep Phoa and Roger Koh on Facebook