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4 common scams in Singapore and how to recognise them

These past few years, scams are getting more prevalent than ever, due to the continuous improvement in technologies. Scammers are finding new methods to lure people to do their bidding and give them what they typically aim for, money.

Recently, at least $8.5 million were stolen from almost 470 customers of OCBC Bank in an elaborate SMS phishing scam in December last year in Singapore. As a response from the authorities, they warned other banks such as UOB and DBS of similar scams in which certain individuals pose as legitimate bank employees.

In this SG news, we are listing some of the variations of scams that are going around in the city-state.

Text message scams

The scam that involved OCBC Bank is not new, as schemes that involve SMS messages are already prevalent ever since mobile phones were created. The system involves scammers sending text messages to customers claiming that they were from the bank.

However, what is alarming in the new schemes is that fraudsters nowadays use similar sender identification marks that are being used by real banks when they are sending fake SMS messages. 

Before, scam messages often used an unknown number on sending a message but now it is appearing on the same conversation that previously had real messages. Customers will now have a difficulty distinguishing fake messages from the real ones.

Impersonation scams

Impersonation scams involve impostors posing as persons of influence such as employers, policemen or government officials. 

These people attempt to persuade their poor victims to send money or give away sensitive data such as bank accounts accessing details or personal data such as social security numbers using SMS messages, e-mails or phone calls.

One common version of these scams involves fraudulent bank numbers being posted on search engine results. Individuals who call these numbers will be connected to con artists posing as bank employees.

Common modus operandi involves messages to receivers claiming that they were in trouble or tempting offers such as part-time jobs or investment schemes. The victims who responded to these calls are often asked to provide personal data or to pay a fee.

Another emerging scam during this pandemic is charlatans pretending to be Health Ministry officials claiming that they need contact tracing information from their victims.

E-commerce and shipment scams

Online markets and delivery transactions have been on the rise ever since the pandemic began. It is not surprising that these avenues are now being used by scammers nowadays.

One of these scams involves posting fake items on e-commerce platforms, selling features on social media pages or auction websites.

The scheme includes posting an in-demand item such as concert tickets or gaming consoles with a low price that seemed to be too good to be true, which is attractive to customers. Once the payment is done, these sellers will now be unresponsive or worse, disappear from the platform.

Dating scams

Dating scams are often just like impersonation scams but much worse because it involves playing with the victim’s emotions. The swindler typically targets gullible victims on dating apps, in which they pose as good-looking partners with the use of stolen photos.

The crook will flirt with the victim for a brief period of time and gain their trust, the rascal will then lie about getting into trouble and ask for money. Some schemes also involve asking for gifts, planning a visit, or convincing the victim to join a fake investment scam.

Final words

Scams are now getting more complex these days as the technologies are getting more and more advanced. It is much better to stay informed from these schemes to avoid falling prey to these scams.