'I never imagined a human being could be so evil': 70-year-old cleaner delays retirement after losing $40k life savings

SINGAPORE – She was close to retirement when she was cheated of her life savings worth $40,000 in April 2021.

Instead of enjoying her golden years, Madam Lim (not her real name), 70, who lives alone in a one-room Housing Board flat in Khatib, has had to continue working as an office cleaner to make ends meet.

The divorcee works three to four days a week for a couple of hours each time, earning about $600 a month.

“In the first two months after getting scammed, I was very angry and blamed myself a lot for believing the scammer’s lies. Now, I am trying to move on,” she said in Mandarin.

Madam Lim lost her savings to scammers posing as officials from the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.

They told her that her personal details had been stolen and used to create a bank account in China used for money laundering.

She believed them, as the scammers knew her full name and NRIC number, and showed her their police identity cards.

After she gave them her address, a woman in her 20s later came to her flat and told her to hand over more than $40,000 in cash, claiming it was for the investigation. She did so.

The scammers then became uncontactable.

Madam Lim made a police report and the case was closed recently. Her funds were not recovered.

She said: “The scammers convinced me they were trying to help exonerate me of the crimes I was accused of. I never imagined that a human being could be so evil to prey on my fears.”

Madam Lim estimates that she has to work for at least another two years before she can retire.

She added: “It gets tougher with age – I get out of breath more easily, as my heart is weaker. As long as I can still work, I will support myself.”


She did not tell her children about getting scammed, as she is afraid of becoming a burden to them.

“They are busy with their own families now, I don’t want them to worry about me.”

Keeping busy in the day has helped Madam Lim cope with the stress of losing her savings, but at night, rest does not come easily.

“I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since then. It takes a long time for me to fall asleep and when I do, I usually get up after two to three hours,” she said.


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This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.


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