Woman tries to liquidate insurance policy despite losses, arouses suspicion of Great Eastern staff

A woman could have lost more than $250,000 if not for the timely intervention of the Anti-Scam Centre of the Singapore Police Force and the staff of Great Eastern and OCBC.

The 67-year-old woman had received a phone call on Dec 2 from someone impersonating a government official from China, alleging that she had suspicious funds in a bank account under her name in China and accused her of having committed a crime.

The impersonator then transferred the victim’s call to another person impersonating another government official from China.

On Dec 13, under the instructions of the second person, the woman opened a new UOB bank account under her name, purportedly to assist in investigations, and provided the Internet banking credentials of the account to the scammer.

She was also told to withdraw all her money from other bank accounts and liquidate her insurance policies to deposit into the UOB account.

On Dec 18, she was instructed to go to the Great Eastern office at Jurong East to liquidate her insurance policies. The surrender value was to be deposited into her OCBC account.

This was detected by a Great Eastern customer service officer who found her account for the surrender suspicious. The woman claimed that the money was for the purchase of a house and renovation fees but was unable to provide more details when probed further.

Despite having to make a loss for the early surrender of her four insurance policies, the victim insisted on proceeding with the surrender, further raising the suspicion of the Great Eastern customer service officer, Mr Toh Ming Ann.

He promptly escalated the case to OCBC, who reached out to the Anti-Scam Centre for intervention.

The Anti-Scam Centre immediately worked with the bank to prevent the woman from making any further transactions while Anti-Scam Centre officers swiftly engaged her at her residence, successfully convincing her that she had fallen for a scam.

The Anti-Scam Centre also acted on the UOB account that was under the control of the scammer.

Mr Toh, OCBC and the Anti-Scam Centre officers prevented the woman from potentially losing over $250,000.