S'pore woman, 51, loses S$76,000 after downloading app to buy durian mooncake

The amount included S$50,000, which the woman planned to use as the downpayment for her HDB flat.

Winnie Li | September 21, 2023, 11:51 AM



A 51-year-old Singaporean woman lost more than S$76,000 after downloading an app from a scammer who claimed to be selling eight pieces of snow skin mao shan wang mooncakes for S$29.90.

What happened

Speaking to Shin Min Daily News, the woman, surnamed Li (transliteration from Mandarin), said she chanced upon a mooncake advertisement on Facebook on Sep. 14, 2023.

"The advertisement mentioned that we could purchase eight pieces of snow skin mao shan wang mooncakes for S$29.90, and the original price was S$56.90. Earlier on, my son said he wanted to purchase mooncakes for his client, so I wanted to purchase two boxes first and recommend it to my son if they taste good," recounted Li.

She then clicked on the link attached to the advertisement, which led her to WhatsApp.

On WhatsApp, the scammer sent a link to Li and asked her to download an app to type in her delivery address.

She was also asked to pay S$1 first to confirm her order.

As Li was aware that there were many scams and was worried that her money would be transferred without her knowledge, she lied to the scammer that she did not have PayNow.

In response, the scammer said he could pay for her first.

Didn't notice anything wrong at first

According to Li, after downloading the app, she could continue using her phone as usual and did not notice anything wrong that day.

Nevertheless, she was forced to delete the app after she could no longer use the two banking apps on her phone.

However, immediately afterwards, the scammer contacted Li and asked her whether she had deleted the app as he could no longer process her order.

Under the persuasion of the scammer, Li eventually downloaded the app again.

Lost more than S$76,000

When Li checked her bank account at 10pm before going to bed that night, her savings were still there, shared Li.

However, when she checked her bank account the next morning, she found out she could no longer log in.

Li then rushed to a nearby ATM (Automated Teller Machine) and discovered that her S$76,538 savings had been transferred out from her bank account on four occasions.

"The amount included S$50,000, which I planned to use as the downpayment for my HDB flat. The rest would be used to pay for renovation work. I didn't know what to do after losing my money," Li lamented.

No notifications from bank

Li also said she did not receive any e-mails or text notifications from the bank when her money was being transferred out of her account.

"Even if text messages could be blocked or deleted [by the scammer], the bank should have sent notifications via e-mail, as I had asked to be notified via both text and e-mail previously. I shouldn't have to find out myself after my money had already been transferred out of my account," she contended.

As such, Li believed that while she had to shoulder some responsibility for downloading the app and losing her money to the scammer, the bank should also bear some responsibility for not noticing the abnormal transactions on time.

In response to Shin Min's query, the Singapore Police Force confirmed that a police report was lodged and investigations are underway.

Top image via Shin Min Daily News