Single mum loses $28,000, left with $4 in bank after clicking FB ad

A single mother lost $28,000 -- money that she did not even have -- after hackers gained remote access to her phone.

According to Shin Min Daily News, hackers not only transferred a balance of $8,000 out of her bank account, but also applied for a cash advance of $20,000.

Ms Chen, a 49-year-old who works in the education sector, said she received a notification on her phone on July 18, informing her about a $6,000 transfer. However, the notification disappeared when she clicked on it.

Sensing that something was amiss, Ms Chen logged into iBanking and discovered that there was only $4 left in her bank account. She immediately contacted the bank to freeze her account.

She also contacted the police and handed her phone to them. It was found that scammers had used malware to hack into her phone and transfer the money.

Ms Chen believes that this happened after she accidentally clicked on a Facebook advertisement, which caused her Google Chrome browser to be infected with malware.

However, the hacker was unable to control Ms Chen's phone remotely without user permission and hence tricked her into allowing access via a fake 'app update' notification.

After obtaining permission, the hacker downloaded Teamviewer on Ms Chen's phone to remotely control her device.

The hacker first logged into Ms Chen's bank account on July 15 and added a new payee, then performed five transactions on July 18 starting from 2pm, including applying for a cash advance of $20,000.

SMS notifications from the bank were all deleted by the hacker, so Ms Chen had no idea what was going on until around four hours later at about 6pm.

Looking back on that day, Ms Chen now vaguely remembers that a notification had popped up on her phone, informing that her Google Chrome app needed to be updated. She did not pay much heed to it and clicked agree.

She said: "I have pages of apps on my phone and didn't notice that there were two Google Chromes on my phone. Remember to check (your phones) to ensure that you have not downloaded malware unwittingly."

As the payee added by the hacker is an encrypted currency company, Ms Chen's money has likely been converted into cryptocurrency and then transferred to a third-party, so hopes of recovering it are slim.

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

Ms Chen, who recently separated from her husband, has two daughters aged seven and 10. She hires a maid for $700 a month to care for them while she works.

While she understands that nothing could have been done about the $8,000 that was transferred, Ms Chen said she has never asked for a cash advance and questioned why the bank allowed such a large sum.

Ms Chen also said she has tried reaching out to the bank but was told that she would have to repay the $20,000, on top of interest and handling fees of $700.

She was informed three days ago that the bank would review her case again and hopes that they can waive the $20,000 repayment out of goodwill.

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