Singapore banks set up anti-mule team involving ex-police officers to fight scams

Mr Eu, who is an investigation specialist with DBS’ anti-mule team asserted that, “No customer will admit they are a money mule, so it is our job to find out.”

In response to the escalating threat of scams, banks in Singapore have joined forces to establish a dedicated anti-mule team, including ex-police officers. The move comes as a proactive measure to strengthen the financial sector’s defences against increasing fraudulent activities.

Account activities that do not coincide or correspond to the profile of the customer and unusual transactions are some of the major areas of concern that Mr Darren Eu looks out for in mule accounts. Mr Eu, who is an investigation specialist with DBS’ anti-mule team asserted that, “No customer will admit they are a money mule, so it is our job to find out.”

As scams continue to evolve in complexity and scale, financial institutions recognize the need for a more robust and agile approach to counter these threats. The team was set up in September of last year. This was a part of a wider anti-scam squad. This team constitutes around eight former police officers and bank employees. Money mules are the people who allow criminals to have control over their bank accounts and in this help, they help the scammers to move illegal money out of the financial system. The primary job of the team assigned will be to eliminate these money mules.

The anti-scam squad was formed in the year 2019, by DBS, the biggest bank in Singapore. This team involves more than a dozen members monitoring fraud alerts round-the-clock. The anti-mule team will not only focus on immediate response but also on proactive measures, including public awareness campaigns to educate customers about the dangers of becoming unwitting participants in money laundering schemes. Yin Juon Qiang, the head of investigations at DBS said, “Now, with the anti-mule team, we want to make sure that the scammers can’t run away with the money.”

From the time the anti-mule team was formed, it has collaboratively worked with the police and provided elucidative tipoffs like one that led to an islandwide raid last November against money mules. An amount of at least S$680,000 (US$506,000) was seized and around five people were arrested. Mr Eu also said, ‘It’s quite rewarding to see all your work paying off, with people being held accountable.” For the anti-scam team, the banks of Singapore recruited former law enforcement officers.