SINGAPORE - Her mission from "Interpol" was simple: Withdraw the $64,000 that had been deposited into her bank account, and pass it to an "Interpol officer".
The housewife in her 50s was told she would get in trouble if she did not help the organisation, and an "Interpol officer" accompanied her to a DBS Bank branch to make the withdrawal on Oct 7.
But a sharp-eyed bank teller felt something was amiss, as the "officer" answered all of her questions on the woman's behalf - even though it was the woman's bank account.
DBS staff Sally Tay, 50, realised the woman was an unwitting money mule after probing further, and immediately called the police for assistance.
On Wednesday (Oct 23), Ms Tay was one of nine who received the public spiritedness award at Bedok Police Division.
For Ms Tay, another warning sign was when the man asked for the $64,000 to be withdrawn in small denominations, instead of being issued as a cheque.
Ms Tay checked the woman's records and discovered that the money had been transferred into the account on the day itself. The woman's savings had also been transferred out a few days before.
Ms Tay alerted her supervisor, who told her to speak to the woman separately while an auxiliary officer kept watch on the man.
"Initially, she was very reluctant to reveal any information, but later on she managed to open up," said Ms Tay.
The woman told her that an "Interpol officer" said she was in trouble for a crime overseas and they needed her cooperation. She even gave them her PIN number, said Ms Tay, adding that the victim believed the "Interpol" was holding her savings that was earlier withdrawn.
"She kept begging to let her withdraw the money, but I told her if she cannot give me a logical explanation for where the funds come from, I cannot authorise it," said Ms Tay.
She convinced the woman to tell the police, who took the man away for investigation. The account was frozen to prevent any other unauthorised transactions.
"I felt quite sad for the victim, but happy that I managed to stop the transaction," she added.
At the OCBC bank branch in Parkway Parade, customer service manager Kristie Chiang, 42, has come across several scams in her 12 years with the bank.
So when her colleague Alson Ong, 31, told her he suspected a 78-year-old customer had fallen for a love scam, Ms Chiang immediately informed the bank's fraud detection department.
The authorities intercepted the woman's transaction of $40,000 to a suspected fraudster who messaged her sweet nothings like "I love you" and "I miss you".
Both Ms Chiang and Mr Ong were also commended on Wednesday.
Said Mr Ong: "We try to put ourselves in our customers' shoes. We don't want this to happen to us or our family members, so of course we don't want this to happen to our customers."