OCBC staff get certs for foiling money scam

It was a typical business day at OCBC Bank's Paya Lebar Square branch on Aug 2 until a man in his 40s came in to withdraw over $36,000 "in the largest possible denomination" in cash.

That set off alarm bells for bank teller Victor Lo, 29. Together with two colleagues, he prevented the man from becoming a money mule in a police impersonation scam. For their efforts, the trio - including customer service manager Catherine Kueh, 54, and bank service officer Gina Chung, 54 - were awarded certificates of appreciation from the Singapore Police Force yesterday.

At the ceremony, Chiang Kiong Environmental and Keppel Seghers Engineering Singapore were also presented certificates for helping investigations in a separate police impersonation scam.

A police spokesman said the case at OCBC is still under investigation but preliminary findings showed that the victim had been contacted by an "undercover officer" who claimed to be from Interpol. The "officer" told the man to withdraw the money and pass it to another "officer", or face money laundering charges.

The $36,000 had been transferred into the man's account from a female victim of the same scam. Mr Lo said when he probed the man on why he was withdrawing the sum, he claimed he had borrowed the money from a friend to buy a car, but did not have any supporting documents.

"He... seemed to have all the answers ready, as if he had been coached." Mr Lo then alerted Ms Kueh and Ms Chung. They stalled the transaction while they investigated.The trio noticed the money had been transferred into the man's account just days prior and was an unusual spike in his account balance. OCBC's Fraud Risk Management team then advised Ms Kueh to stop the transaction and the bank made a police report.

Tan Tam Mei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2017, with the headline 'OCBC staff get certs for foiling money scam'. Print Edition | Subscribe