The elderly man, who was identified only as Mr Loh, said he was attracted by a deal on Facebook offering 1.5kg of Peking duck for the equivalent of US$17.30, with an extra S$5 (US$3.64) for delivery fees, Singapore tabloid Shin Min Daily News reported.
He told Shin Min he was going to have dinner with his family on the night of August 26 and thought his grandson would like to eat the popular dish.
Before his order could be processed, the app required him to make a S$5 deposit payment through PayNow.
Loh, a former importer, was initially wary of the ad and even asked if it was a scam. But the person eventually persuaded him to pay the deposit, the newspaper reported.
The scammer told him that “no one would be cheated of S$5” and that “this was a small thing”, according to Singapore newspaper The Straits Times.
However, within minutes of making the payment, Loh’s phone screen went black and repeatedly rebooted for 30 minutes, prompting him to reach out to the scammer in a panic, the newspaper reported.
Loh’s wife then realised something was wrong and contacted their daughter, who got her brother to call the bank to block their father’s account, according to the outlet.
But it was already too late.
According to the newspaper, a bank employee told the family that the scammer had raised Loh’s transaction limit and transferred about US$42,900 out of his current and savings accounts.
Using Loh’s DBS credit card, the scammer also obtained a credit advance of nearly US$8,000, it reported.
“I couldn’t believe the news. I thought: why am I so stupid?” Loh told The Strait Times.
“I was so angry at myself for being cheated of my life savings,” he said. “My family is frustrated, and I ended up quarrelling with my wife.”
Loh’s daughter told the newspaper that all the children were “heartbroken” that their father was scammed after they had warned him about such schemes in the past.
“We thought we had done enough to minimise the risk,” she told the newspaper.
According to a recent report by Singapore’s Police Force, more than 750 Android device users fell prey to malware scams in the first half of 2023, resulting in losses of more than US$7 million.
Police and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore released a joint advisory in August to increase awareness about the growing frequency of malware scams affecting Android users.