OCBC staff stop scam by thrice refusing to help S'pore woman, 57, remit S$10,500 to 'USA boyfriend'

They could smell something fishy from a mile away and intervened repeatedly to help the would-be victim.

Belmont Lay | August 31, 2021, 04:23 AM

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A woman, 57, was repeatedly stopped by five OCBC employees from being scammed -- not once or twice, but thrice in a matter of days as they refused to help the customer execute a funds transfer transaction to an overseas account after smelling a rat.

This repeated act of persistent scam prevention and professionalism was revealed by the bank in a Facebook post on Aug. 30, 2021.

Went to bank on 3 separate days

According to the post, the female customer visited the OCBC Choa Chu Kang branch three times on June 14, 15 and 17.

Her visits were to remit €6,600 (roughly S$10,500) to her Internet "boyfriend".

She told the staff at the bank the money was for her "boyfriend" in another country to help him with his "pipe repairing machine", which was "for his business".

The staff even found out that the woman met the other party "a few years ago" online, but only started really talking to him on Facebook after her husband passed away a few months ago.

Smelled fishy

The OCBC branch staff immediately got suspicious, the post added.

They noticed that the funds transfer was to be made to a personal bank account in Thailand.

This was despite the woman saying her "boyfriend" was allegedly based in the United States with his daughter.

Undeterred by the woman's insistence, and convinced this was going to turn out to be a costly mistake, the bank employees spent more than an hour each time dissuading the customer from transferring the funds.

But the customer was just as insistent.

Repeatedly talked woman out of it

On June 14 and 15, OCBC staff stalled the woman for time.

They simply refused to transfer the funds for the customer and even went as far as advise her to tell her "boyfriend" not to pressure her to give him money if he really loved her.

The staff even found out that the "boyfriend’s daughter" had to audacity to call the woman via WhatsApp just to convince her to send the money for the business, which made the woman "very confused and sympathetic".

Refusing to give in, the bank employees reached out to the Singapore Police Force.

Officers from the Choa Chu Kang Neighbourhood Police Centre even attempted to speak with the customer to advise her against sending any money to the scammer.

Final tactic to stop scam: Arrange for video call with "boyfriend"

On June 17, at around noon, the woman returned to the bank a third time and still insisted on transferring the money.

As a last resort, the bank staff agreed to have a joint video call with the woman and her "boyfriend", in an attempt to prove that the man on the other side of the funds was not who he said he was.

The customer then returned to the branch at about 6.30pm that day to prepare for the video call.

The post said an anomaly was immediately detected as the "boyfriend" indicated he was only available at "lunchtime" in Italy, which is 7pm Singapore time, but he was supposed to be based in the States.

The bank colleagues then went the extra mile in terms of customer service.

They waited with the woman until 8pm, which was way past the branch opening hours, but the video call did not happen.

The "boyfriend" was not available.

Bank staff pre-empt scammer

To pre-empt any excuses that the "boyfriend" would later cook up to explain away his absence, the bank staff told the woman the "boyfriend" would only call her later that night with numerous excuses.

And this was exactly what happened, according to the customer, who returned to the branch once more the next day.

This time, though, the woman returned to thank the bank staff for saving her from losing her monies.

The five OCBC employees were featured in a photo in the post, where they were awarded for their persistence and dedication to safeguarding the interests of their customer.

The five employees pictured are (from left): Benjamin Lai (Customer Service Manager), Winnie Chng (Branch Manager), Chen Jiali (Service Officer), Goh Swee Lee (Customer Service Manager) and Toh Poh Kim (Service Ambassador).

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