Branch Assistant Service Manager stops housewife from ‘Interpol’ scam

Not all heroes wear capes… although ours does have a red ‘costume’.

A DBS bank branch staff stepped in to rescue a scam victim from further loss, when she noticed suspicious behaviour while serving a hapless customer and the man accompanying her to the counter.

When a woman in her 50s came to the DBS Bedok branch with a younger man on 7 Oct 2019 asking to empty her account of SGD 64,000, branch Assistant Service Manager Sally Tay, 50, felt something was amiss.

Even though it was the woman’s bank account, the man was answering all of Sally’s questions on her behalf, claiming the money was allegedly a loan from the woman’s colleague, which he was borrowing for renovations. However, when Sally checked the customer’s profile, it listed her as a housewife.

Upon reviewing the account’s transaction records, Sally also noticed the money had been deposited just earlier that day, and the customer’s own savings had been transferred out only a few days ago.

Rather than comply as instructed, Sally swiftly alerted her supervisor to what she suspected was a scam. The supervisor then advised Sally to take the customer to a separate room and speak to her privately, as auxiliary personnel kept an eye on the man.

In the room, the customer said she believed she was in trouble for a crime committed overseas and needed to cooperate with ‘Interpol’ for these money transfers while they held her savings.

She also revealed that the Interpol impersonators had hounded her with threatening phone calls for weeks. Under duress, she had shared her personal information, including her ATM PIN, which enabled them to make the withdrawals and transfers.

As it turned out, the woman had fallen prey to fraud, and Sally found herself as the last line of defence against the ploy.

“She kept begging to let her withdraw the money, but I told her that if she couldn't give me a logical explanation for where the funds came from, I couldn't authorise it”, Sally recounted.

Seeing the victim was hungry and weak with stress, Sally gave her a drink and some biscuits to boost her strength and soothe her anxiety. She eventually persuaded her to speak to the police when they arrived, and the suspect was taken away for investigation.

Sally, who’s been working at DBS/POSB for a total of 20 years now, has never encountered anything like this before, and says the anti-money laundering and fraud detection training she receives from the bank helped her identify the suspicious activity and foil the fraudster’s plan.

For her keen eye and quick thinking, Sally received the public spiritedness award at Bedok Police Division on the 23 Oct 2019, bringing great pride to DBS, and emphasising the importance of the uniform our branch staff don in their line of service.

Remember to always protect your information and #LiveCyberstrong with our #BSHARP guide. Do share this story with your loved ones so we can limit the damage scammers cause.