According to Bloomberg, the first person linked to a phishing scheme involving Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. (OCBC) pleaded guilty to offenses including money laundering.
The Singapore Police Force (SPF) have detained 13 youths aged from 19 to 22 for their alleged involvement in a recent round of OCBC Bank phishing schemes that occurred between December 2021 and January 2022.
Among them, seven people were charged in February for their suspected roles in the scheme.
Leong Jun Xian, one of the seven, pleaded to two counts of dealing with the benefits of criminal action and rioting.
In addition, the 20-year-old admitted to a charge under the Organized Crime Act. He was charged with 15 different offenses.
The Singapore media Straits Times cited court documents that Leong and the other six people sourced and provided control of bank accounts to various unknown persons linked to overseas syndicates.
Bloomberg reported a total number of 790 victims defrauded by a text message phishing scam impersonating the lender.
In addition, approximately 80% of the money was lost between December 23 and December 30, 2021.
As the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said, victims would receive unsolicited SMSs alleging that their banking accounts were having problems. Receivers would have to click on the link aimed at collecting their bank account information to solve the problem.
The police said that it would be challenging to recover the funds.
As reported by the South China Morning Post, John Paul Tan was one of the victims. His family lost their life savings within hours when his wife clicked on the link last month.
Siti Raudhah Mohd Ali is another victim. She said the SMS looked “very much like the other ones” that OCBC Bank had sent her. The site was “authentic-looking.”
In response, OCBC has finalized arrangements for 13.7 million SGD (10.05 million dollars) in goodwill payouts to these people.
They said, “OCBC Bank decided to make the full payout as a one-off gesture of goodwill given the circumstances of this scam.”
OCBC added, “We also took into consideration that our customer service and response fell short of our own expectations, that could have affected loss mitigation in some of the cases.”