Anti-Scam Centre recovers largest single sum of almost $6.7m
The Singapore Police Force's Anti-Scam Centre (ASC) has recovered more than US$4.91 million (S$6.69 million) in an alleged business e-mail scam.
It is the largest single sum the centre has recovered since it was set up in June last year.
In a statement yesterday, the police said they launched an investigation after receiving alerts on Saturday from United Overseas Bank (UOB) and the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A foreign bank, which the police declined to identify, had contacted UOB to urgently recall US$5 million that was illegally transferred to a Singapore-based UOB account belonging to a local company.
UOB told reporters that it froze the Singapore bank account within minutes of the alert. Preliminary police investigations showed that the monies were moved following an alleged business e-mail scam.
Working with UOB, the ASC was able to recover more than US$4.91 million. The police are tracing the remaining sum.
The bank said it is the largest sum the bank's branches here have recovered from a scam.
Commending the bank for its "invaluable assistance in the recovery of the monies", the police said the public should be vigilant of scams involving compromised e-mail addresses.
"Such scams involve deceiving businesses through spoofing of company or client e-mail addresses and making them transfer large amounts of monies into the wrong hands," the police added.
At least 209 reports of business e-mail compromise scams were received here in the first six months of the year, up from 164 in the same period last year.
The police said the total amount scammed has dropped. Victims were cheated of at least $15.9 million from January to June, down from the $22.3 million in the same period last year.
The police yesterday reminded companies to adopt crime prevention measures, such as educating staff to be mindful of new or sudden changes in payment instructions and bank accounts.
They said companies should also verify payment instructions by calling the e-mail sender through phone numbers in their records instead of unknown numbers provided in the fraudulent e-mail.
The police advised businesses to use strong passwords and change them regularly to secure their e-mail account from being hacked. Two-factor authentication should also be used whenever possible.
For scam-related advice, the public can call the anti-scam helpline on 1800-722-6688 or go to www.scamalert.sg