These case studies have been modified so as not to identify any actual cases at FIDReC. They are provided for purposes of learning and are not necessarily indicative of outcomes at FIDReC.
Peter came across an online social media post by a foreign company (“The Group”) claiming that “super profits” could be made in online trading of cryptocurrencies. A celebrity Peter liked was featured in the post. Peter clicked on a link in the post and went to a website offering investments in cryptocurrency. He keyed in his contact details when prompted to do so. The next day, he received a phone call from a representative of The Group. After explaining to him how the investment worked, she instructed him to transfer $30,000 to an overseas bank account so that he could start trading. Peter sent the money by telegraphic transfer.
A week later, a representative of The Group told Peter that his investments were making good money. They sent him screenshots of his trading account which claimed to show these “profits”. Two weeks later, they advised him to invest more. Peter then transferred another $80,000.
A month later, Peter wanted to withdraw his profits. He informed The Group and they promised to transfer him the money. Unfortunately, The Group became uncontactable soon after and Peter received nothing. When he read up more, Peter realised that he had been a victim of a scam. He immediately made a police report. He also asked his bank to recall the $110,000 he transferred. His bank managed to successfully recall only $10,000. Peter was not satisfied and demanded the bank compensate him the balance $100,000. His bank did not agree and so he filed a claim at FIDReC.
At mediation, Peter insisted that the bank should not have facilitated the scam by enabling his funds to go through to the scammer’s account. He said that the bank should have known that The Group was fraudulent as there was a warning issued against The Group by an overseas regulator. As mediation could not resolve the matter, Peter continued with adjudication.
After considering the submissions from both parties and all the evidence, the Adjudicator dismissed Peter’s claims although he was sympathetic to his loss. He noted that Peter had authorised the fund transfers. There was no gross negligence or misconduct on the part of the bank or their employees, who had merely done as their customer instructed. They could not have known of the warning by the overseas regulator as that was issued after the transfer dates. In any event, it was doubtful that overseas regulator warnings had any binding effect on banks in Singapore.
Key Learning Points
• Do remember that if anything sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Before committing your money to an investment, keep in mind these three simple steps: Ask, Check and Confirm.
- Ask many questions. For e.g., you can ask the company how they are able to give you the promised returns.
- Check the background of the company, including address, organisation structure, information on its directors and leadership team.
- Confirm if the company is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), by checking the Financial Institutions Directory and the Investor Alert List.
• If a company is not regulated by the MAS or is based outside Singapore, you may face greater challenges in pursuing claims against it..
• Be sceptical about claims of investments being endorsed by famous figures. Do your own independent checks and do not rely solely on endorsements.
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