OCBC Bank customer lost $120k in fake text message scam; another had $250k stolen

SINGAPORE – It took a man and his wife five years to save about $120,000, but in just 30 minutes, scammers using a fake text message stole the money they had kept in their OCBC Bank joint savings account.

The couple in their 20s were among at least 469 people who reportedly fell victim to phishing scams involving OCBC Bank in the last two weeks of December last year.

The victims lost around $8.5 million in total.

Speaking to The Straits Times, the couple, who declined to be identified, said they had been saving up to start a family. They have not been able to get their money back.

The husband works in the e-commerce sector while she is in the hospitality industry. The man said he received the phishing message with a link at around noon on Dec 21 last year.

It claimed that an unknown payee had been added to their account, and instructed him to click on the link if it was not approved by him.

“The SMS looked like it came from OCBC and entered the usual SMS chat history from OCBC used for authentic banking services,” he said.

“The link took me to a site that looks exactly like the OCBC login page.”

He then entered his account details, unwittingly handing over control of the whole account to scammers.

They realised they had been scammed only when the man received SMSes from the bank informing him of changes and transactions involving the account that had taken place earlier that afternoon.

He showed ST his text message history. According to the timestamp, the bank sent him the alert at about 2pm, only for him to receive it past 6pm.

“Had we received the notifications on time, we would have been able to react faster, and perhaps been able to reach the relevant teams during the same business day to stop the transactions,” said the man.

After news broke that others had also been scammed, the couple decided to start a group for victims in an attempt to collectively seek answers.

Theirs was not the largest sum stolen.