Enticed by the durian deals she saw online, a durian lover in Singapore fell hook, line, and sinker into what was most likely a malicious scam and lost nearly all of her life savings.
Promised S$6/kg for Mao Shan Wang
Speaking to Chinese media Shin Min Daily News, the 50-year-old housewife surnamed Koh said she has been seeing durian advertisements on Facebook in the recent weeks.
The advertisements sparked the durian lover’s cravings for the fruit and she sent a query on May 4, 2023 to one of the online sellers “TMZ Fresh” to ask for its prices.
The store got back to her a few hours later, informing her that they were running a special promotion of S$6/kg for Mao Shan Wang durians while D24 durians were going at S$3/kg.
It was a great deal, as the rate that Koh was offered was half that of the S$12/kg Mao Shan Wang rate seen at some durian stalls in Singapore during peak durian season in the past years.
Instructed to download mobile application and become a member
Thinking it was a great deal, Koh proceeded to ask the seller how to place her orders, what were their delivery times slots and other related matters.
The seller took down her contact number and told her a customer service agent will get in touch with her shortly.
Koh received a call from a customer service agent, who based on her recollection, sounded like a man with a Malaysian accent.
The agent told her to download a mobile application “E2 Mall” and key in her details to sign up as a member.
To sweeten the deal, the agent even promised Koh to throw in some durians for free.
Koh did as the agent told but her online payments were repeatedly rejected.
Realised her bank account was missing over S$50,000
The agent then instructed her to head to a bank to get a token.
Koh did so on May 6 before submitting her bank account details into the app.
She said she wanted to contact the agent after doing so, but realised that the agent’s Facebook and Whatsapp were no longer available.
Koh did not think much about it back then and only realised her folly the next day on May 7 evening.
She logged in to her mobile bank application to pay for her food using PayNow, but realised that over S$50,000 had gone missing from her bank account.
According to her bank transaction history, two unauthorised transactions – S$27,549 followed by S$26,231 – were made the day before on May 6.
The transactions totalled S$53,780, leaving her with only S$7 in her bank account.
She told Shin Min that the money in her bank account was her life’s savings.
Koh immediately called the police and alerted the bank, but it was too late by then.
The police told Shin Min that they are investigating the matter.
Koh suspects that the scammers controlled her phone remotely to perform the transactions, saying that she recounted her phone heating up after she keyed in her bank details into the app.
Most expensive durians
Since the incident, Koh said she has bought a new phone and changed her number as she does not want the scammers to have access to her contacts and potentially become the scammers’ next victims.
Koh regretted her actions and said those were the most expensive durians she has ever bought.
She added that she does not want to eat the fruit anymore.
Top image from Shin Min Daily News