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There’s been a sharp rise in the number of cyber scams and real life cheating incidents in Singapore. Here are the on-going ones you should be aware of.

Caller Scams

1) 999 Scam

Image Credit: Vulcan Post
Image Credit: Vulcan Post

The latest phone scam involves callers receiving a missed call with phone numbers that begin with the digits 999xxxxx. People have been receiving unknown missed calls from these numbers and when they returned the call, they would be connected to the 999 police emergency hotline instead.

The police have asked the public to ignore the calls, because it is possible that a Caller ID spoofing technology may be used to mask the actual phone number and display a different number.

Anti-Scam Protip: Any missed call with a 999- at the front is a caller-ID spoof scam.

2) DHL Scam

Image Credit: Vulcan Post
Image Credit: Vulcan Post

You’ve all seen the Mothership video. This scam involves a callers who claim to be form courier companies like DHL. The scam sometimes starts with an automated voice declaring that they are from DHL to trick victims into believing them. They tell their victims that they have illegal parcels under their name, threatening them to pay a  “fine” or face jail time.

With over 50 reports made and $4 million lost by victims since March, the DHL scam is possibly one of the most common scams in recent months. 

The scammers also ask victims to provide personal details like their IC number, passport and bank account numbers to people claiming to be customs officers or the police.

Anti-Scam Protip: DHL will never call your phone number and demand that you pay them. Official channels for DHL are email and snail mail. They might call you to inform you that your package is arriving, but that’s about it.

3) Sex For Credit Scam

Image Credit: kopitiambot
Image Credit: kopitiambot

Also known popularly as the “WeChat Sex Scam”, this cheat involves perpetrators who claim to be young and beautiful women, in order to lure men to buy online credit in exchange for sexual favours. More than 200 men have been victims of this ruse.

The credit paid is usually through Alipay Purchase Cards or iTunes cards. After transferring the credit, the victims never hear from their attractive women again.

More than 200 men have fallen for this scam since the start of 2016. Over $646,000 has been lost to fraud.

Anti-Scam Protip: If it looks too good to be for you, it probably is.

4) Internet Love Scams

Image Credit: www.scamalert.sg
Image Credit: www.scamalert.sg

Over $8.9 million were lost by victims of internet love scams from January to May 2016.

Typically the perpetrators are people who claim to be foreigners looking for love or friendship. After befriending the victims, the fraudsters cook up excuses to ask their victims to transfer money to them. One woman lost as much as $1.2 million in an Internet love scam earlier this year.

Anti-Scam Protip: DO NOT TRUST online strangers. Assume that anyone online that asks for your money is a scammer.

Organizational Scams

5) Voucher Scams

The on-going NTUC scam is actually a format used for other organisations like Starbucks, McDonald’s and even IKEA. Here’s how they look like so you can avoid them in the possible future:

Image Credit: welivesecurity.com
Image Credit: welivesecurity.com

The scam tricks victims into thinking that they would get $500 vouchers to those who fill in an online survey, or after they provide their personal details.

NTUC has warned in mid July that the survey and cash vouchers are fake.

Anti-Scam Protip: NTUC always has giveaways for their promotions. Direct vouchers are too good to be true, even Sheng Siong prefers to give you cash instead of vouchers.

6) Singapore Power Services Scam

Usually through the phone, scammers call their victims up and claim that their utilities bills are unpaid or that the electrical meters needs to be changed. The victims are asked to proceed and make payment to a bank account.

Singapore Power Services has warned customers to be wary of such scams.

Anti-Scam Protip: Do not make payments into random bank accounts! Even if they threaten you with a fine, remember that public services will never chase you for payment – they’ll just cut off your supply first.

7) Home Inspection Scams

Residents of Compassvale Link have been approached by a couple, who went from door to door, claiming to be from the town council. They were supposedly there to check on sofa insurance- which is not a real thing.  Residents were asked to pay a fee for the sofa checks. A Facebook note was shared in mid July to warn others.

Similarly, other scammers might not be as subtle. They could be robbers who are looking to gain easy entry into your home.

The only two official purposes that the town council would send someone to your house is either to check for mosquito breeding places, or to help the elderly with their pioneer generation services.

Here’s how NEA officals look like in their uniforms:

Image Credit: NEA
Image Credit: NEA

Anti Scam Protip: Don’t let anyone without an official pass into your home. If you are uncertain, even if the person looks like he has a pass, just refuse entry to them. Town council officials will never ask you for money directly.

8) OCBC Phone Scams

Image Credit: loudounsourcelink.org
Image Credit: loudounsourcelink.org

OCBC said that there was a massive rise in the number of scam calls impersonating the bank in July. According to OCBC, victims usually receiving a phone call with an automated message that asks for a response.

After following the instructions, victims will be transferred to a Mandarin-speaking person. The scam calls usually show phone numbers that are from outside singapore or private. Some even appear as OCBC’s official number.

Anti-scam Protip: Banks will never call you unless you have scheduled a callback with me. Even if so, the bank will never ask you to transfer money to them. After all, why would they need your money twice?

9) Fake Government Websites

Image Credit: IDA.gov.sg
Image Credit: IDA.gov.sg

From a bogus Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore website to a fake Ministry of Manpower website, online government sites are not spared from scam either. These sites ask victims for personal data like usernames and passwords and even visa numbers and passport numbers.

All official Singaporean government websites end with “.gov.sg”. Likewise, all official emails from the government will contain an officer name and contact information.

However, the government should never send you emails, so be cautious even if you see it end in .gov.sg as there was an earlier IRAS scam where the scammer managed to impersonate the .gov.sg email. 

Anti-scam Protip: Check the website URL very closely and always use google or a search engine to access the website. This will prevent you from accidentally entering a phishing site as google will check the website safety for you.

The government will never send you sensitive documents or one-click-links to solve certain issues.

10) Online Purchase Scam

Image Credit: Scam Alert.sg
Image Credit: Scam Alert.sg

E-commerce has seen a spike of cases by 30% last year. Victims ask usually asked to pay multiple times for fake online bargains, while the perpetrators say that the orders would only come in later. Unfortunately, the money, nor orders are recovered usually.

The surge in online scams have pushed up Singapore’s crime rates as authorities continue to urge the public to be wary of scams.

Anti-scam Protip: If it’s too good to be true, it is. Look for deals only in Marketplaces like Taobao, Lazada and Qoo10, and only trust rigorously reviewed sellers.

Featured image credit: Travelertips.org

Categories: Singaporean

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