Unauthorized withdrawals hit DBS, POSB bank customers

update Singapore bank investigating how some 200 customers lost about S$200,000 in unauthorized withdrawals that allegedly took place in neighboring Malaysia.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor on

update SINGAPORE--Local banking giant DBS says it is investigating the unauthorized withdrawal of funds from the accounts of about 200 DBS and POSB customers, amounting to some S$200,000 (US$154,780), which appears to have occurred in Malaysia.

Jeremy Soo, managing director and head of the DBS bank's consumer banking group in Singapore, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mailed statement that some of its customers had notified the bank on Wednesday that unauthorized withdrawals were made in Malaysia through their DBS and POSB ATM (automated teller machine) and Debit cards. The compromised cards were immediately de-activated and the bank would be taking steps to compensate these customers in full. DBS acquired POSB in November 1998.

"We are treating the matter with utmost priority and would like to assure customers that they will be fully compensated, for any fraudulent transactions, within 24 hours of notifying the bank. We will also issue replacement ATM/Debit cards on-the-spot at any DBS/POSB branch", Soo said.

"Investigations are currently underway and we have started to proactively contact all customers whose account transaction history indicates that there has been an ATM transaction made in Malaysia, over the past few days, to double check and confirm that indeed such an ATM transaction was made," he added in the statement.

According to DBS, the average amount withdrawn was reported to be about S$1,000 (US$773.90).

One affected customer, Chen, told news network Channel NewsAsia (CNA) Thursday that when she checked her bank account online on Wednesday night, "some transactions [were] done, five times. In total, about S$3,000 [withdrawn]".

Another, Li, said an unauthorized withdrawal from her account was made from a shopping center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. When she went to the police station to make a report, she met another person making a similar report. "Then I realized I was not the only one," she told the news network.

According to affected customers, the transactions took place in Malaysia while their ATM cards were still with them in Singapore.

Online citizens have taken to the Web to circulate the news. Twitter user Richard Jang tweeted: "#POSB & #DBS has done a good job on Internet banking with enhance security using token. But this time they fall for bank card withdrawals."

Another user Richard Yip tweeted: "If you can't trust #POSB or #DBS bank with your money, that's bad. Massive fraud happening!"

DBS said customers who believed their ATM or debit card might have been compromised can contact the bank at 1800-220-1111 or visit any DBS/POSB branch.

In July 2010, DBS customers were hit by a seven-hour service outage which the bank later attributed to a failure on IBM's part to fix an identified instability in its storage system.

When contacted, a spokesperson from NCR, the manufacturer of DBS' ATM network, confirmed it was helping the bank investigate the issue, but was unable to comment further until it uncovered more details.

According to DBS' Web site, the bank has over 3.2 million customers in Singapore where it operates almost 80 branches and over 1,100 ATMs.

[UPDATE: Jan. 6, 6.16 p.m.] At a media conference held this afternoon, DBS said it had confirmed 400 cases of unauthorized withdrawals amounting to an estimated compensation of S$500,000 (US$387,627). The bank also identified two ATMs in a location in Singapore which it believed were compromised.

Ellyne Phneah contributed to this article.

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