Anti-Scam Centre recovers US$4.91 million laundered in e-mail scam

SINGAPORE – The Singapore Police Force’s Anti-Scam Centre (ASC) has recovered the bulk of US$5 million ($6.79 million) stolen in an alleged business e-mail scam.

It is the largest single sum the centre has recovered since it was set up in June last year.

In a statement on Thursday (Oct 8), the police said they launched an investigation after receiving alerts on Oct 3 from United Overseas Bank (UOB) and the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A foreign bank had contacted UOB to urgently recall a sum of money that was illegally transferred into a Singapore-based UOB account belonging to a local firm.

UOB told reporters that it froze the Singapore bank account within minutes of the alert.

Preliminary police investigations showed that the monies were moved following an alleged business e-mail scam.

Working with UOB, the ASC was able to recover more than US$4.91 million. Police said they are tracing the remaining sum.

The police commended the local bank for “their invaluable assistance in the recovery of the monies”, adding that the public should remain vigilant of such scams which involve comprised e-mail addresses.

“Such scams involve deceiving businesses through spoofing of company or client e-mail addresses and making them transfer large amounts of monies into the wrong hands,” the police added.

They said companies should adopt crime prevention measures, such as educating staff to be mindful of any new or sudden changes in payment instructions and bank accounts.

Companies should also verify payment instructions by calling the e-mail sender via phone numbers in their record instead of unknown numbers provided in the fraudulent e-mail.

To secure their company’s e-mail account from being hacked, the police advises businesses to use strong passwords and change them regularly. Two-Factor Authentication should also be used whenever possible.

For scam-related advice, the public can call the anti-scam helpline on 1800-722-6688 or go to this website.

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