Phone call from man posing as DHL worker led company's MD to start anti-scam campaign

DHL Express Singapore's managing director Christopher Ong received a call from a scammer claiming to be from his company. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Mr Christopher Ong received a call in late 2020 from a Mandarin-speaking fraudster who claimed he was from delivery firm DHL's "Chinese department" and asked for his banking details to redeem a high-value parcel.

Little did the scammer know that he was speaking to DHL Express Singapore's managing director.

Mr Ong, 48, immediately realised he was speaking to a swindler as his company does not have such a department.

He noted details about the caller's requests and mode of operation, before he told the scammer: "We don't have a Chinese department at DHL. I am the managing director."

He told The Straits Times: "I wanted to understand their mode of operation so I can educate our people on how scammers worked.

"I thought, surely there can be more we can do to tackle scams."

Mr Ong recalled this incident as he spoke about DHL's campaign to distribute anti-scam notices to some 600,000 delivery customers from October to December last year to educate the public about scams.

The logistics company was one of 45 organisations that received a Community Partnership Award at the police headquarters in New Phoenix Park on Thursday (April 7).

In DHL's first collaboration with the police, the firm stuck the notices on parcels urging customers to be wary of suspicious online deals and sellers who insist on payment outside the sales platform.

The campaign first targeted about 20,000 residents in the Hougang area, but in December, it was expanded islandwide to reach out to 600,000 households.

Mr Ong noted that the company received more calls about scams as more shoppers turned to online platforms amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and was worried that there would be a surge in scams as Christmas drew near.

The police reported during a presentation at the ceremony that $5.8 million was lost to e-commerce scams in 2021.

They said in an earlier report that in such cases, fraudsters may entice victims with cheap deals but cease contact after payment is made, without ever delivering the goods promised.

Scammers may also impersonate staff of delivery companies and claim that additional payment is needed to facilitate the delivery of their purchases in order to phish for personal and banking details, the police added.

For more information on scams, members of the public can visit this website or call the anti-scam hotline on 1800-722-6688.

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