Falling Prey to Lottery Scam
Ollie is 51 years old and works as a technician. He earns an income of $65,000 a year and owed a total of $38,000 to a few creditors. The main cause of indebtedness was a result of both he and his spouse falling victims to a lottery scam.
CCS : How did using credit cards got you into a problem with debt?
Ollie : I used the credit card cash advance to claim a lottery winning of $400,000, which was won by my wife. I remember feeling excited as I was looking forward to claiming the lottery winnings.
CCS : Can you share more about what happened?
Ollie : My wife met someone at an exhibition in 2018. Subsequently, she received calls claiming that she had won a lottery held in Hong Kong but she had to deposit money to claim the winnings.I must admit, when she told me about it, I was excited and became blinded by greed and believed that the calls were legitimate. They asked for more and more money from us before winnings could be released.
My wife and I used up all our savings. Later, I also used my credit card cash advance to draw more funds.
We lost about $130,000 in total over 7 months before we finally accepted that it was all a scam.
CCS : When did you realise that something was amiss?
Ollie : Initially, I did not think that there would be any problem with using the credit card debt cash advances as I really felt I could use the lottery winnings to pay back eventually.
My wife and I started to accept the reality that we had been scammed. When we realise that we would have difficulties paying back, we felt depressed, anxious, and suffered from insomnia.
CCS : Did you share your debt problem with anyone? If yes, who?
Ollie : Actually, we did not want to share with anyone. For many months, we kept the whole situation to ourselves until one day we could not bear the financial and emotional burden any longer. That’s when we shared the situation with our son.
CCS : How did your son support you and your wife?
Ollie : He confirmed that my wife and I were scammed. He brought us to the police, help us file a report. My son also helped us to come forward to seek help from CCS.
CCS : How did you keep up with the repayment arrangement?
Ollie : I worked overtime to earn additional income and we spent frugally.
I have recently completed the repayment plan and feel so relieved to be debt free.
CCS : What do you intend to do with the ‘extra’ money from the monthly installment amount now that you have completed your DMP?
Ollie : I want to save for our retirement. I have also started to invest in an endowment policy.
CCS : Please share a word of advice to people who are facing a debt problem.
Ollie : One should not get into debt without thinking how to repay first, and do not be greedy. I am very appreciative of CCS helping me to resolve my debt through a repayment plan.
The police have reported in their mid-year statistics, that a total of $227.8 million was lost to the top 10 scam types in the first six months of this year, up from the $142.5 million lost in the same period last year.
"The prevalence of scams continues to be high in Singapore. At least 90 per cent of scams in Singapore originate from overseas," said the police.
Can you spot a scam? The best way to protect yourself from scams is to learn how to recognise the signs. Refer to Scam Alert (https://www.scamalert.sg/) to get the latest information on scams, learn how to spot the signs and avoid getting scammed.
An interview with a CCS Client – This is the fourth of a series of interviews conducted with Credit Counselling Singapore’s (CCS) counselled clients on our Debt Management Programme.
Profile of the client is presented based at the time the person approached CCS for assistance, which could be as recent as a few months ago or several years ago. Name of the interviewed client has been changed.
These interviews will be published on the 3rd Friday of the month.
Credit Counselling Singapore
Published 21 October 2022.