Man arrested for suspected involvement in fixed deposit scam; victim transferred $100,000

The victim had received an unsolicited text message with a spoofed header of a local bank. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

SINGAPORE - A 47-year-old man has been arrested for his suspected involvement in a fixed deposit scam that promised high returns.

Responding to an unsolicited text message, the victim transferred $100,000 to a bank account provided by the man, but later reported the matter to his bank and the police, as he felt something was amiss.

Through investigations and working with the victim's bank, officers from the Commercial Affairs Department and Tanglin Police Division established the man's identity, and arrested him on Wednesday (Nov 17).

He is suspected to be a money mule for the case, said the police in a statement on Thursday.

The police received a report on Nov 11 from the victim who received an unsolicited text message with a spoofed header of a local bank. The message had promoted a fixed deposit scheme which promised high returns.

The victim then called the number on the SMS and spoke to an unknown man who claimed he was working for a local bank, and subsequently transferred the money, said the police.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the man is believed to have withdrawn more than $5,900 from the bank account the money was transferred to. The account was believed to be controlled by the scammer.

The man had later helped to deposit the money to several unknown bank accounts. A mobile phone and some apparel were seized as case exhibits.

The man will be charged in court on Friday with assisting another to retain benefits from criminal conduct. Offenders can be jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to $500,000, or both.

He will also be charged with abetment by conspiracy to commit unauthorised access to computer material, which carries a jail term of up to two years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Members of the public who wish to place their money in fixed deposit accounts should do so through an authorised finance company or bank, said the police.

They should also be wary of unsolicited advertisements and text messages, and SMS texts with spoofed headers and grammatical errors, the police added.

"Always verify the authenticity of the information with the official website or sources; and never disclose your personal or Internet banking details and OTPs (one-time passwords) to anyone."

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.