Associate professor accidentally transfers $12.6k to travel agency, boss refuses to return money – STOMP


An associate professor who accidentally transferred $12,690 to a travel agency account called the police after the agency owner allegedly refused to return the money. 

Mr Xu, 38, who works as an associate professor at the Faculty of Science in the National University of Singapore, told Lianhe Wanbao that he had purchased a Hyundai Elantra worth more than $80,000  from an automobile dealer, Komoco Motors, in August last year.

As part of the transaction, Mr Xu had to pay a deposit of $12,690 either via cheque or a bank transfer. Mr Xu said he was resting at home when he was first informed that he needed to place a deposit.

Not wishing to go out just to hand over a cheque, he chose to transfer the amount using a banking app on his phone instead. 

He said:

“While I was choosing the account for the transfer, I accidentally selected the account of the travel agency, which also started with the letter ‘K’. 

“Actually I helped a friend to transfer money to this agency a few years ago. I must have forgotten to delete the account later.”

Mr Xu did not notice anything amiss and sent a screenshot of the transaction to the automobile dealer. A manager from the dealer called him five days later, informing him of the mistake.

Said Mr Xu:

“I immediately called the police and also attempted to contact the owner of the account to ask for my money back. It has almost been 10 months but I have not gotten anything back.”

Mr Xu said that he once visited the travel agency situated at People’s Park Complex but found that it had already closed down.

He managed to get the number of the agency owner from some a nearby shop. Mr Xu said that he was told that the travel agency owner was facing financial difficulties. 

Some shopkeepers nearby also reportedly told him occasionally, others would show up at the travel agency to look for the owner. 

Mr Xu added that he tried contacting the owner repeatedly but to no avail. When he finally managed to locate the owner via his friend, the latter claimed that he did not notice any money transferred into his account.

Later, the owner said that he needed approval from a business partner to transfer money from the account, with no developments on the issue since then.

Mr Xu acknowledged that while it was his mistake initially, the sum is substantial, and he hopes to recover it. 

In response to media queries, the police confirmed the incident and said that investigations are ongoing. 

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