Different types of online scams and how to avoid them
The police have warned that conmen are increasingly using social media platforms and dating websites such as QQ, WeChat, Facebook, Line and OkCupid to hook their victims.
The police issued an advisory on Tuesday (Nov 8) of some common scams employed by conmen using such platforms and reminded the public what to do to avoid falling prey.
In July, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam had also released statistics on the swelling number of online and social media scams.
There were 2,450 such scams reported last year compared with 1,015 in 2014, Mr Shanmugam said in a written reply to a question in Parliament.
The Ministry of Home Affairs revealed that there were 298 Internet love scam cases in the first half of this year, almost twice the 150 cases reported in the same period last year. As much as $11.6 million have been lost to such conmen in the first half of the year.
Tuesday's police advisory detailed three types of scams: impersonation of China officials, foreign investment and Internet love. Here are the different types of online scams and how to avoid them:
Victims receive messages from a spoofed local telephone number containing "999" or a spoofed China telephone number containing "110" for the Chinese police.
They are accused of committing crimes and are asked to provide further information such as their Internet banking details and One-Time Password (OTP). Or, they are directed to a fake website of the Singapore Police Force or the China Police and asked to key in their banking details.
The scammers then use the personal and banking information to access the victims' Internet banking accounts to make illegal transactions. In some cases, the victims were instructed by the scammers to transfer a sum of money using bitcoin vending machines.
The transfer involves scanning a QR code provided by the scammers and depositing money into the machine.
Foreign investment scam
Victims receive messages from unknown individuals claiming to be brokers or staff from banks or financial security firms in Hong Kong.
Thereafter, the victims will be introduced to attractive investments packages that promise returns of 10 to 50 times the amount invested.
Victims are instructed to transfer their money to banks in Hong Kong
and China and also told to pay administrative fees, security fees and other taxes to receive the profits and returns.
Internet love scam
Victims receive friend requests from unknown individuals and eventually develop a romantic relationship or friendship with them.
The victims will be asked to lend the other party some money on pretext of various reasons such as payment for tax to release a gift that was stuck at customs or investment into seemingly attractive investment packages.
Victims were typically instructed to transfer money to banks in Hong Kong and China.
Precautions to take when contacted by potential scammers online or on social media:
- Call the agency's official telephone number to check that they had contacted you. It is unlikely for government agencies to send unsolicited messages or make unsolicited calls to members of the public on the social media for official matters.
- Ignore instruction to remit or transfer money. Do not give out personal information and bank account details to strangers.
- Exercise caution when befriending strangers through social media platforms. Be wary when asked to send money overseas.
- Call a trusted friend or talk to a relative before you act. You may be overwhelmed by emotion and err in your judgment.
- If you have information related to such crime or if you are in doubt, please call the Police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or call 999 for urgent Police assistance.