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A woman fell prey to a scam that saw $18,000 getting swiped from her bank account – all because she downloaded an app on her phone after responding to a Facebook advertisement.
Even her husband was in disbelief that the normally sharp-witted accountant would be vulnerable to scammers, reported Shin Min Daily News.
Mrs Deng, a 59-year-old accounting manager, came across the advertisement for a healthy meal package on July 25. Known as Healthy Box, the service was offering three dishes and one soup for $58 including delivery fees.
"I was enticed by the offer so I contacted them via Facebook, provided my phone number and arranged for delivery," said Mrs Deng.
Someone claiming to be from the food delivery service contacted Mrs Deng while she was at work the following day, asking for her address and dietary preferences.
She recounted: "The person on the line sounded like a local and came across as very professional, so I did not have any doubts."
The other party then sent Mrs Deng a link via WhatsApp and instructed her to download an app called 'Grain', claiming that it was to authenticate and complete her order.
According to Mrs Deng, the app had an electronic menu for users to choose their meals and did not appear amiss.
After downloading the app, Mrs Deng was asked to pay a $10 deposit via PayNow. However, the phone number provided was invalid.
"The other party said they would handle it and kept asking me questions. The line then suddenly got disconnected. When I called back, no one answered," said Mrs Deng.
She realised something was wrong after numerous failed calls, prompting her to quickly uninstall the app and notify her colleagues.
Mrs Deng added: "My colleagues helped to contact the bank and freeze all of my accounts, but it was too late. My money had already been transferred, so I called the police."
A total of $18,000 was transferred out of Mrs Deng's bank account through four transactions.
She believes that hackers had remotely controlled her mobile phone because a pop-up window with options to 'approve' and 'reject' had appeared on her screen.
Mrs Deng said: "I kept pressing 'reject', but there was no response."
The hackers also appeared to have reset her phone as all chat logs were no longer accessible.
Additionally, Mrs Deng found that her funds transfer limit had been raised from $1,000 to $25,000.
Mrs Deng's personal details such as her Singpass credentials had also been stored in the hacked phone, but fortunately, her CPF funds remained secure.
She said: "I quickly changed my Singpass account's password."
The police confirmed that a report was lodged and investigations are ongoing.
Speaking to Shin Min, Mrs Deng's husband said his wife is usually very shrewd. However, the scammer's tactics were unexpectedly sophisticated and hard to guard against.
He added: "We hope our experience can alert the public and prevent other victims from being scammed."