Payment company Xfers wins police award for fighting cybercrime

Xfers co-founder Samson Leo (left) with Singapore Police Force senior investigation officer of the Technology Crime Division, Mr Edwin Choo. Xfers, like PayPal, works by having users top up their e-wallet to trade online. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Two years ago, a local online payment processing company was informed by police about suspicious activity on its platform.

Bosses at Xfers discovered that someone was trying to make transactions on six accounts on its website that had been locked.

They began a collaboration with the police which has since blocked six impersonation scams and stopped potential victims from losing tens of thousands of dollars.

The company was presented with a plaque for its active cooperation on Wednesday (May 23) in a ceremony at the Police Cantonment Complex.

"Victims only know that they are being conned when their bank account is zero," said Inspector Edwin Choo, senior investigation officer of the Technology Crime Division.

Xfers, like PayPal, works by having users top up their e-wallet to trade online.

The company found that amounts exceeding $1,000 were being topped up by bank account holders who did not match the identities of Xfers account holders.

The scammers tried to make purchases from Xfers' network of merchants, but the company managed to stop six of them involving a total of $37,000.

"For these few cases that we managed to stop, it was more of a proactive cooperation with the police, rather than waiting for the victim to make a report," said Mr Samson Leo, 32, co-founder and chief legal officer of Xfers. "Had we waited a few days, the victims' money would probably have been lost. It was a balance of a chance of fraud or an inconvenience to the customer. It was a difficult decision for us."

After receiving Xfers' intelligence, the police confirmed a few days later that the intended transactions were fraudulent.

It is believed that a foreign-based culprit had phoned victims claiming they were being investigated by Interpol and asked for the log-in credentials of their i-banking account. Those with no account were asked to create one. They also obtained photos of victims' identity cards and bank account statements. The perpetrators remain at large.

"Xfers was just one of the many ways the perpetrators chose to dissipate the fraudulent funds," added Insp Choo.

For the past two years, the police have been establishing close contacts with banks and fintech companies, which are key in chasing down a trail of fraudulent money transfers.

Mr Leo added: "Because of our partnership with the police, we were able to get first-hand information on the trends in cybercrime."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.