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7 people charged, six arrested over suspected involvement in recent spate of OCBC bank phishing scams

7 people charged, six arrested over suspected involvement in recent spate of OCBC bank phishing scams

File photo of a police officer arresting a suspect. (File photo: CNA/Hanidah Amin)

SINGAPORE: Thirteen people have been arrested, with seven of them charged, for their suspected involvement in the recent spate of OCBC bank phishing scams between December 2021 and January 2022, said the Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Sunday (Feb 20). 

They comprise nine men, aged between 19 and 21, as well as four women, aged between 19 and 22. 

"The police have been closely monitoring reports of the OCBC Bank phishing scams since its inception in December 2021," said the authorities. 

Through "thorough investigations and extensive probes", the police established the identities of the 13 people suspected to be involved in the phishing scams. 

Police officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) arrested all identified suspects in an islandwide operation on Feb 16 and Feb 17, 2022.

An array of mobile devices, bank cards, SIM cards, cash amounting to S$2,760 and two Rolex watches, worth a total of S$35,600 were seized.

On Feb 18, seven people were charged with assisting another to retain benefits from criminal conduct, said the police. They are:

  • Roy Peh Yong Rong, 19
  • Leong Jun Xian, 21
  • Kong Jia Quan, 19
  • Brayden Cheng Ming Yan, 19
  • Muhammad Khairuddin Eskandariah, 20
  • Lim Kai Ze, 21
  • Jovan Soh Jun Yan, 19

Court documents showed that the seven Singaporeans had each procured control of at least one bank account around December last year. They then handed control of the accounts to unknown individuals, in some instances referred to as "Ah Seng" or "William". 

The men are alleged to have had reasonable grounds to believe that the unknown people were engaged in criminal conduct, said the charge sheets.

The offence carries a jail term of up to 10 years, a fine of up to S$500,000, or both. 

The seven men have been remanded for further investigations and police investigations are ongoing against the other six suspects. 

"The police will spare no effort to track down any person who may be involved in scams, and perpetrators will be dealt with firmly and in accordance with the law," said SPF. 

An array of mobile devices, bank cards, SIM cards, cash amounting to S$2,760 and two Rolex watches, worth a total of S$35,600 were seized by the police. (Photos: Singapore Police Force)

To avoid being an accomplice to crimes, members of the public were reminded to always reject requests by others to use their bank account or mobile lines as they will be held accountable if these are linked to crimes.

"Combatting scams requires a whole of society effort. While Police have stepped up our enforcement efforts, members of the public still play a vital role in the fight against scams," said the police. 

It added that a "discerning and well-informed public is the best defence" against evolving scam tactics.

Members of the public were also urged to be "individually alert" and help raise awareness by sharing scam prevention tips with their friends and family. 

S$13.7 MILLION LOST IN PHISHING SCAMS

OCBC said last month that a total of S$13.7 million was lost in the phishing scam involving the bank, up from the S$8.5 million reported in December 2021.

The number of customers affected also went up, from 469 to 790, as more victims came forward. 

About 80 per cent of the amount lost occurred over the year-end festive period from Dec 23 to Dec 30, said OCBC.

Arrangements for all the "goodwill payouts" had been made, the bank said at the time.

In Parliament last week, Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan gave an update on the phishing scam, revealing that the Singapore police have frozen 121 local bank accounts as of Feb 13 while recovering about S$2 million of victims’ money.

About S$2.2 million has been traced to 89 overseas bank accounts.

Many of the scam websites used in the phishing scam were hosted by companies based overseas, he added.

Police are also working with Interpol and foreign law enforcement agencies to investigate the beneficiaries of the funds transferred overseas, as well as the hosts of these scam websites.

Source: CNA/lk(gr)

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