Five scams to watch out for in Singapore

Scams are getting more elaborate than just shady emails these days.

Naren Sankar

Nostalgic man, never giving up. Loves cartoons.

Published: 29 November 2021, 12:10 PM

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) said that scams went from 7,247 cases between Jan and Jun 2020 to 8,403 cases in the same period in 2021.

From dating scams to e-commerce scams, scams are getting much cleverer than a shady email these days.

Here are some recent scams to look out for in Singapore.

1. E-commerce fake job scam

Scammers will offer fake part-time jobs on e-commerce platforms, with the job requiring victims to help e-commerce platform merchants improve their sales by making advance purchases.

The fake advertisements are posted on Facebook, or sent via unsolicited WhatsApp messages from unknown numbers. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/NAREN SANKAR

Scammers will gain your trust before telling you that you can earn money fast by doing this job with the scammer’s guidance. They will then pass you an e-commerce platform item link and instruct you to provide a screenshot of the items in your shopping cart.

Victims would be assured that they would get their money refunded eventually, plus a 10 per cent commission and for the first two to three missions, scammers will actually give victims the commission so that there is a false sense of security.

The victim’s next mission will be $1,000 over and after they finish it, the scammers will become uncontactable.

2. The Pig's Butchering scam

Scammers will play the long game with you in this scam where they will gain your trust before leading you to the butcher.

A scammer will pose as someone from a different country, wanting to return to their country of origin soon. For example, a Singaporean living in London promising to return to Singapore in the coming months.

The scammer will then spend one to three months gaining your trust, being knowledgeable about both countries. They will then slide it into a conversation one day that they do Cryptocurrency as a side hobby and get you to invest a small amount of cash in a scam website.

When you see returns on that small amount, the scammer will let you withdraw it back into your bank account.

Scammers using this trick often look for unsuspecting victims through dating apps. PHOTO CREDIT: EXECUTIUM VIA UNSPLASH

A few days later, they will ask you to invest a lot in the scam website and after you do, the website’s customer service will tell you that you need to put in an exorbitant amount of money to take your money out.

The scammer and scam website become hard to track down after that.

3. E-commerce ‘staff’ asking for your One Time Password

Scammers will call claiming to be from an online shopping company and say that they detected a transaction from another country which the victim is not from.

They will then ask for the victim’s One Time Password (OTP) to verify the victim’s identity and offer to help the victim reset their account.

The scammers are sometimes able to tell their victims specific details like email account, contact number and home address. PHOTO CREDIT: FACEBOOK/LAZADA

Once scammers have their victim’s OTP, they will reset the victim’s e-commerce password and go on a shopping spree, ordering items and cancelling them shortly after. The refund is then directed into the scammer’s bank account. Once the refund is processed, there is little chance that the victim can get their money back.

4. Loan scams

Loan scammers send text or WhatsApp messages promising fast, easy loans and then go missing once the victim transfers money to the scammer’s bank account, supposedly as a deposit in order for the larger loan sum to be disbursed to them.

Always refer to the list of licensed moneylenders in Singapore on the Ministry of Law’s website before taking up a loan. PHOTO CREDIT: ANDREA PIACQUADIO VIA PEXELS

5. Government Impersonator scams

The scammer will text, email or call and say that they are with a government agency, such as the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA). They might give you their employee ID number to sound official. They might even have information about you, like your name or home address.

They could accuse you of something like spreading fake news related to COVID-19 or breaking COVID-19 rules, further saying that a report would be made against you if you do not transfer money to them.

Scammers may use caller ID spoofing technology to mask the actual phone number and display a different number. PHOTO CREDIT: FACEBOOK/IMMIGRATION & CHECKPOINTS AUTHORITY

They may ask you to bank transfer, use gift cards or Cryptocurrency because these payment methods are hard to trace.

If you think you have been scammed, here are some actions you can take to have a chance to recover your money.

Make a police report and make sure that you keep every piece of evidence stored somewhere to help the police.

Contact your bank if you have sent funds to a scammer or fraudulent website to see if your bank can reverse the transaction or can hold your funds and ask if your bank has a fraud protection policy.

Visit here for more information on scams and above all, do not blame yourself for being scammed, the blame is entirely on the scammer.

If something is too good to be true, it probably is. Stay vigilant always!

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