Young couple loses OCBC joint account life savings in 1 afternoon, urges bank to not put scam victims on hold

They still counted their blessings despite the trauma.

Belmont Lay | January 17, 2022, 06:16 PM

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A young couple in Singapore, who are OCBC Bank customers, lost their life savings in one afternoon as a result of the recent SMS phishing scam.

The exact amount lost was not disclosed, but they were cleaned out via five transactions sent overseas.

The only silver lining is that they have so far managed to retrieve a portion of the money lost when two transactions were reversed, and are awaiting investigations to play out.

The incident was shared by the husband, John Paul Tan, in a Facebook post on Jan. 15.

The couple have young daughters.

What happened

According to the post, Tan said he and his wife were scammed on Dec. 21.

The couple share an OCBC joint account.

Tan had just come home that day with his 11-month-old daughter, who was diagnosed with Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease (HFMD).

The man's wife received a message supposedly sent by OCBC telling her someone who was not authorised was trying to access the bank account.

He wrote: "It was the phising message, she clicked it."

Things went downhill after that.

Tried calling bank to no avail

The man wrote that his wife tried calling the bank and was put on hold at least twice.

But the husband did not panic at that time as he said he "trusted" his wife's judgement and he had to attend to his daughter.

Started to panic in afternoon

It was only later in the afternoon when the gravity of the situation sunk in.

Tan's wife was at the playground with their three-year-old child when she called her husband to inform him she had to go to the police station to make a report.

Tan logged into his bank account straightaway.

He wrote: "I logged on to the account and our life savings were wiped out. We lost everything in five overseas transactions."

But the bank could not entertain his request for help: "I called the bank immediately and they said that it had to be taken up by my wife, because she clicked the link."

Only when the couple called the bank together were they told that the bank needed nine days to get back the money, "but the money was gone and chances were slim".

To add insult to injury, Tan's wife was diagnosed with HFMD too.

Tan wrote: "I couldn't get out of bed for two days. My mental state of mind had completely collapsed. I got my ass out of bed on Christmas eve, only because I had work."


Upon reflection before Christmas, Tan wrote that he was grateful he still had cash lying around to pay the bills and he was still able to be a person with integrity and focus on doing the right things during times of adversity.

But as fate would have it, Tan's three-year-old daughter also came down with HFMD.

Bank retrieved some money

Tan's post concluded with some good news.

He wrote that the bank managed to reverse two out of five transactions, even when it was thought that all money was lost and irretrievable.

He reiterated in his post that his family did not need help as there are others who are worse off, regardless if they were scammed or not.

Instead, he sought to count his blessings in having family and friends who rendered all kinds of help and support during the crisis.

However, he also said he wished laws can be changed to make sure banks are better equipped, such as by "not putting anyone on hold in their hour of need".

Tan wrote: "My wife and I sat down at the dining table that night after the kids had gone to bed. We talked for hours about how blessed we were to come out of this relatively unscathed. Nobody was hurt, barring some serious mental trauma. Most importantly, as devastating as it could be, the family stayed together through it all. It was time to start again, but maybe slightly differently this time."


Top photo via Google Maps