Victims lose at least $6.8 million in loan scams in 2019
Between January and November last year, at least 1,700 cases of loan scams were reported, with victims losing at least $6.8 million, the police said in a press release yesterday.
They said these scams have possible links to unlicensed moneylending.
The police said victims would typically receive a text message or WhatsApp message offering loan services.
Interested victims are told to transfer a sum of money as a deposit. However, after transferring the money, no loan would be disbursed.
The police said victims would discover the person they had been corresponding with did not exist only after contacting the respective licensed moneylenders that the scammer had claimed to represent.
Another version of the scam involves perpetrators sending PDF documents, purportedly from the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) or Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), or both.
The scammers would tell victims they have to pay a deposit sum and 7 per cent goods and services tax (GST) for the loan amount, before the loan can be approved to deceive the victims into believing they were dealing with a licensed moneylender.
In some cases, the victims received another PDF document informing them the loan request had been processed.
When these victims then declined to make the payments, the scammers would claim that the loans had already been approved and would demand a processing fee to cancel.
The police said members of the public should be aware that licensed moneylenders are not allowed to make any cold calls or send unsolicited text messages.
The moneylender is obliged under law to verify the identity and particulars of the borrower at its approved place of business. The licensed moneylender cannot approve or grant a loan to a borrower remotely.
The addresses of these offices are available at MinLaw's Registry of Moneylenders website.
The police added that a licensed moneylender will not ask a loan applicant to make any payment before the disbursement of the loan. This includes GST, or any other fees.
The police advised the public to ignore such advertisements and not to give out personal information.
"Do not reply to these messages. Instead, block or report the number as spam..." they said.