IT-Savvy Lady Lost $94K To Very Smart Scammer Pretending To Be Singtel Staff


While the economy in Singapore has come to a standstill, there’s one particular sector out there that’s striking it rich.

And no, it’s not Sheng Siong or food delivery services.

It’s scams. Or, to be more specific, tech support scams.

Now, if you’re thinking, can the elderly stop giving their hard-earned money away?!

It’s not just them.

Scams can happen to everybody, and scammers are getting smarter as this IT-savvy businesswoman can attest to.

IT-Savvy Lady Lost $94K To Scammer Pretending To Be Singtel Staff

A 61-year-old owner of a business consultancy firm, Ms Bavara, got a call from a man who identified himself as a Singtel staff.

Without her asking, he provided her with an employee identification number and told her a Cyber Security Agency (CSA) officer will get in touch with her.

He told her that her IP address and two bank accounts have been compromised by nine hackers, three of which are from Singapore.

Later, she was told that they have to make a “fake transaction” with her bank accounts to “track down the hackers”.

They Were Smart

So why did she get duped?


For one, she was frightened.

Secondly, the scammers are really convincing. She could remember them being very confident, polite and knowledgeable:

“The impersonators were very confident, polite, knowledgeable. I asked all kinds of questions and they had good answers to everything. I was pretty much overwhelmed with all the details.”

They had even produced a letter of authorisation from her bank to clear away her doubts.

They wanted to steal $170,000 but could only get away with $94,000 after her bank got suspicious and stopped some of the transactions.

Ms Bavara only knew that it was a scam after the police called her about the suspicious transactions that the bank flagged.

And she was considered pretty lucky.

Highest Amount Scammed Was Almost A Million Dollars

According to the Singapore Police Force (SPF), the total amount scammed from victims within the period of Jan to Apr 2020 was at least a staggering $7.7 million.

Why at least? Because we all know that there could be more that are unreported out there.

In the same period last year, it was only $170,000. And I used the word “only” relatively.

The highest amount of money scammed from a single person this period is $958,000.

Image: Tenor

70% of the victims are aged between 40 and 75 years old.

Typically, the scammers will pose as IT support staff from telcos (think Singtel, M1) or government agencies to frighten their victims into believing them.

Then, victims will be made to download programs like Teamviewer or AnyDesk to give them access to “fix the problem”.

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True Story: Goody Feed Almost Got Scammed Too

But there was nothing in our bank accounts for them to take-

Image: Giphy

Jokes aside, our boss almost got us to become part of the statistics for victims scammed by tech support too.

He received a call earlier this year and was asked if he was having any issues with the company’s internet connection.


Showing the kiasu-ness of a typical Singaporean, he complained about our WiFi getting slower (it does, but nothing warranting a complaint, really).

The scammer got him to turn on and off the modem in the office. You know how it gets when you switch on and off your modem, right? It’s slow.

Our boss got impatient and asked the scammer, “What’s my name?” And that’s when everything went downhill (for the scammer).

We Got Lucky

The entire point of the #TrueStory part isn’t to brag about how we didn’t get scammed. We were merely lucky. I mean, if Singtel’s modem isn’t so slow at switching on/off, the scammer would’ve taken the $234 left in our bank accounts.

The point is to show that it’s no longer like last time when the elderly were the most vulnerable to scams.


Now, everybody’s equally at risk.

So the next time you receive a call from someone identifying himself as an official employee, be it from Singtel, Starhub or your local caipng stall, keep in mind that they might not be who they say they are.

A good rule of the thumb to follow is this:

If bank accounts, pins, 2FAs or other sensitive personal information is needed, slam the phone down immediately.

Don’t worry, if it’s official business, they’ll have other ways of contacting you without you having to provide an alternative way of communicating.