8 people arrested for involvement in phishing scams targeting DBS customers

The eight people are being investigated for the offences of cheating or money laundering. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

SINGAPORE - Eight people have been arrested for suspected involvement in phishing scams that targeted DBS Bank customers.

In a statement on Thursday (June 9), the police said they received reports between June 5 and 8 that more than 60 victims had fallen prey to the phishing scams and lost more than $60,000 in total.

These victims had received unsolicited SMS messages from senders with names like "SG-DBS" or "DBS-Notice", stating that their cards had been blocked due to unusual activities, or that their bank accounts had been frozen due to suspicious activities.

The SMS then directed victims to sign in and verify their identity via an embedded link which actually led to a spoofed Internet banking login page.

Victims would be asked to key in their login and bank card details as well as one-time password, which allowed the scammers to access their accounts and drain their funds.

The police said officers from the Commercial Affairs Department arrested the scammers in an islandwide operation on Wednesday after conducting investigations and collaborating closely with DBS.

The eight people, consisting of seven men and one woman aged between 17 and 33, are being investigated for the offences of cheating or money laundering.

The offence of cheating under Section 420 of the Penal Code 1871 carries a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine.

The offence of money laundering under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act 1992 carries a jail term of up to 10 years, a fine of up to $500,000, or both.

Separately, the police also said a 68-year-old man will be charged in court on Friday for allegedly conspiring with an unknown person to deceive three local banks into opening accounts for him.

He was also charged with allegedly abetting the unknown person to secure unauthorised access to the banks' computer systems when he provided them with the personal identification numbers (PINs) of ATM cards linked to his accounts.

Police investigations found that the man had befriended the unknown person on a social media platform and was asked to receive funds in Singapore for business purposes.

He then allegedly duped the three banks into opening accounts in his name by deceiving them into believing he would be the person using these accounts.

Instead, the man mailed the ATM cards to an address in Malaysia and provided the PINs to the unknown person he had befriended.

The police found that the accounts were used to receive a total of $20,300 from three victims of Internet love scams.

The victims had met and fallen in love with scammers over Facebook and Instagram. They were then asked to transfer money for various purposes, such as helping their "lovers" with cash flow problems or paying fees needed to release parcels that had been sent to them.

Conspiring to cheat a bank into opening a bank account is an act which is likely to harm the bank's reputation and is an offence under Section 417 and Section 109 of the Penal Code.

This carries a jail term of up to three years, a fine, or both.

Abetting persons to secure unauthorised access to a bank's computer system is an offence under Section 3(1), Section 10 and Section 11A of the Computer Misuse Act.

A first-time offender may be fined up to $5,000, jailed for up to two years, or both.

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The police said they take a serious stance against any person who may be involved in scams or facilitating money laundering, and perpetrators will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

"To avoid being an accomplice to crimes, members of the public should always reject requests by others to use your bank account or mobile lines as you will be held accountable if these are linked to crimes," said the police.

Members of the public should also avoid disclosing their SingPass login details, as these can be misused for many transactions, the police added.

For more information on scams, visit this website or call the Anti-Scam Hotline on 1800-722-6688.

Anyone with information on such scams may also call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit information online.

All information will be kept strictly confidential, the police added.

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