UOB sues retiree to recover funds he alleges were lost in phone scam
UOB says Mr Lim Thiam Ho owes $105,080 because it made a cash advance under his credit card account.
United Overseas Bank (UOB) has gone to court to recover more than $100,000 it advanced to a retiree who has refused to pay the amount, claiming that the bank was solely responsible for the loss which arose from an alleged phone scam.
UOB says Mr Lim Thiam Ho, 61, owes $105,080 because it made a cash advance under his credit card account.
But he claims that he was duped into logging in to his bank account by scammers who applied for the cash advance. He is blaming UOB for failing "to take timely action to stop the transaction" entered by the scammer despite being notified of it immediately.
As a result, he says, he lost $43,500 of his own funds, which he is counterclaiming from the bank.
The alleged scammer got away with a total of $148,500.
In court papers seen by The Straits Times, Mr Lim said that he was issued a complimentary credit card by UOB when he signed up for privilege banking services with the bank about 15 years ago.
He said that at about 11am on Oct 16 last year, he received a phone call from a woman, who claimed to be from Singtel, informing him of "security lapses" in his Internet account.
The woman offered to make security configurations and handed the call to an alleged engineer to obtain remote access to Mr Lim's computer using the TeamViewer software.
A third person, who identified himself as "Eric Lewis", then asked him to sign in to his bank account to allow them to "secure" his banking access on the computer, said Mr Lim.
He said he did so and felt something was amiss only when "Eric Lewis" refused to provide his contact details.
Mr Lim said he immediately checked his bank account from another computer and found that his credit balance had been almost totally depleted.
He quickly logged off from the computer and ended the phone call.
Mr Lim said the operator told him that she would get someone to contact him. He claimed they returned his call nearly six hours later.
But Mr Lim said that long before they did, about an hour after his initial call, he headed to the UOB Tampines Central branch "to stop the scam from progressing."
In his defence filed with the court, Mr Lim said a bank staff member at the branch told him that a cash advance of $105,000 was made to him under UOB's advance credit facilities and a telegraphic transfer of $148,500 to a Zhang Fucai was in progress.
Mr Lim said the staff member "assured" him that he would cancel the telegraphic transfer, told him "not to worry" and that he would "take care" of it. The staff member then assisted Mr Lim to submit a cancellation request.
Thereafter, Mr Lim returned home and made a police report online.
When he followed up with the bank the next day, he was told that the telegraphic transfer was not cancelled and that the money had been transferred to the recipient.
In his counterclaim, Mr Lim blamed UOB for failing to ensure that its employees were sufficiently trained to deal with situations involving scam transactions and establishing adequate safeguards to ensure that such transactions are stopped instantaneously or expeditiously.
Mr Lim, who is represented by Chia Wong Chambers, also denied having entered into any agreement with the bank for the advance facility.
UOB, represented by Shook Lin & Bok LLP, disputed Mr Lim's claims that the Tampines branch officer had assured him that he would cancel the telegraphic transfer and neither did he tell Mr Lim not to worry nor that he would "take care" of it.
Mr Lim also has to prove that the scam took place.
In its reply to Mr Lim's defence, UOB said that its records showed the logging in to Mr Lim's personal Internet banking account, the request for a cash advance of $105,000 from his credit card to his i-account, the addition of the beneficiary account as a payee and the transfer of the sum of $148,500 from his i-account to the beneficiary account were all authorised and authenticated by him.
When Mr Lim and his son reported to the bank's branch about possible fraudulent activities, UOB said the branch officer was uncertain if the sum had been credited to the beneficiary account and advised Mr Lim to submit a cancellation request to try to recall the funds.
The bank subsequently obtained the status of the remittance from the Swift Global Payment Innovation system and noted that the amount had been credited into a Hong Kong account with HSBC which said that any recall was subject to approval from the beneficiary account holder.
UOB said the bank has waived any interest on the cash advance amount of $105,000 from Mr Lim's account until both parties come to a consensus. Mr Lim was informed in April that his credit card account had been terminated.
Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.