'I don't even have a PayPal account': Scam leaves woman with just $7 in bank account

PHOTO: The Straits Times file

April Fool's Day delivered a cruel joke for one woman, who realised her bank account had been freshly cleared out by an unknown person, save for $7.

The woman, who only wanted to be known as Cheong, thought she had misread the account balance when she failed to withdraw $50 from an ATM on April 1. The machine displayed a message saying she didn't have enough money in her bank account.

The 24-year-old factory worker immediately checked her banking app, and that's when she realised a PayPal user named Sonia Hernan had been transferring money out of her account without her knowledge, Cheong recounted in a now-viral Facebook post.

"I was so anxious I didn't know what to do," she wrote.

PHOTO: Screengrab/Facebook

Screenshots attached to her post showed multiple transactions, most of them in amounts of $12.44.

Speaking with AsiaOne, Cheong said she lost a total of $189. Fortunately, she transferred most of her money into a different bank account some time ago, and her salary, which is credited to this account, was not issued at the time. 

She called the bank's customer service for assistance, and a staff member helped to block her card. Cheong was also told that the missing amount would be returned to her within five working days.

The bank is still investigating the incident, she told AsiaOne, and she has yet to receive her money.

Cheong suspected that a recent influx of calls from unknown numbers — all of which included a '+' symbol in front — might have had something to do with the scam, though she clarified that she hadn't picked up any of those calls and hadn't clicked on any suspicious links either.

"I don't know why my money was stolen," she said. "I don't even have a PayPal account."

“Linking your card to PayPal is dangerous."
"I don't even have a PayPal account."
PHOTO: Screengrab/Facebook

She hopes that her post will help warn others not to fall prey to such scams.

Identifying scams

The police have noted an increase in phishing scam cases since 2020, and advise members of the public to stay vigilant in order to avoid becoming victims. 

The simplest way to tell whether a phone call is genuine or fake is to look out for a '+' prefix, as it indicates that the call is coming from overseas. Numbers beginning with "+65" in particular are the most obvious, as domestic calls will not show the '+' prefix with Singapore's country code.

Should you fall victim, or suspect yourself to be a victim of a scam, lodge a report with your bank or the police by providing the relevant information.

READ ALSO: New scam alert: Police warn of scammers posing as young women in unsolicited text messages

rainercheung@asiaone.com