Man clicks FB ad, loses $10,000 after downloading phone app to make $10 payment

A man had his phone hacked and lost almost $10,000 from his bank account -- all because he clicked on a Facebook advertisement and downloaded a third-party application.

Mr Chen, 34, told Shin Min Daily News that he had planned to visit Malaysia for a few days over the upcoming Hari Raya holiday.

The human resources consultant, who usually books private charter services online, came across one such Facebook advertisement by 'Tiger Car Team' on June 1.

Not thinking much of it, he clicked on the ad for more information.

Mr Chen said: "Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I was always looking for ride-sharing services in Telegram groups. However, these groups dissolved after the pandemic.

"I started looking for private charter services through these Facebook ads and have used them several times without any problems."

According to Mr Chen, all the procedures he went through this time were as per normal.

He was also asked to pay a deposit of $10 to $30 to ensure that he would not be a no-show. As such, he clicked on a link provided by the other party and downloaded a phone application.

When Mr Chen tried to make payment through the application, he was directed to what appeared to be a bank website. He proceeded to enter his username and password, but was told that the payment was unsuccessful.

"At that time, I thought I had remembered the wrong password as I did not use this bank often. I switched to another bank to log in but was still unsuccessful, so I immediately became suspicious,' recounted Mr Chen.

Mr Chen suspected that his mobile phone was being remotely controlled by hackers as part of its screen went black. During this time, he tried switching off his phone to cut off the other party's access.

He also saw numerous bank notifications popping up, requesting him to enter a password to approve transactions, but he did not click on them.

Although Mr Chen immediately called his banks to have his accounts frozen, a sum of $9,975.15 was still transferred out of one account. He was later told by the bank that the money cannot be recovered and is currently appealing the case.

Mr Chen hopes that by sharing his experience, those intending to travel and book such services will be more vigilant.

He added: "This incident does not affect my interest in travelling to Malaysia, but I will definitely not pay a deposit next time. If the other party can accept this, I will use his services. If not, forget it."

In response to media queries, the police confirm that a report was lodged and investigations are ongoing.

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