Since January, scammers have been pretending to be friends of victims and cheated them of more than S$1.2 million, said the Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Friday (Mar 11).
SPF said there had been a resurgence of the phishing scam where scammers would contact victims through phone calls pretending to be someone they knew and then ask for financial assistance.
“Upon picking up these calls, the callers would not identify themselves. Instead, they would ask the victims questions such as: ‘Guess who am I? You can’t remember me?’ said SPF in an earlier release on the same scam.
Victims would then think that the caller was someone they knew and reply with the name of an actual friend with a similar voice.
After that, the caller would assume the identity of the said friend and claim to have lost their handphone or changed their contact number.
“The caller would contact the victims subsequently asking for a loan due to financial difficulties or having gotten into trouble with the law,” said SPF.
The scammers would give a bank account or phone number to transfer money to.
The victims would only discover they have been scammed after contacting their real friends.
In recent cases, the victims received phone calls from unknown numbers with the “+” prefix.
The public is advised to be cautious towards this type of number, especially if they aren’t expecting an international call.
“Verify whether the request is legitimate by checking with your family and friends through alternative means such as physical meet-ups or using previously established contact details,” added SPF.
Police investigating another 236 individuals involved in multiple scams
In a separate news release on Mar 11, SPF said that 158 men and 78 women, aged between 14 and 72, are currently assisting in investigations for their suspected involvement in scams as scammers or money mules.
Officers from the Commercial Affairs Department and the seven Police Land Divisions conducted a two-week operation between Feb 25 and Mar 10, 2022.
The suspects are believed to be involved in more than 787 cases of scams, comprising mainly Internet love scams, e-commerce scams, business email impersonation scams, China or Government Officials impersonation scams, investment scams, job scams and loan scams, where victims lost more than S$5.1 million.
The suspects are being investigated for the alleged offences of cheating, money laundering or providing payment services without a licence, said SPF.
Under Section 420 of the Penal Code 1871, offenders guilty of cheating can be imprisoned for 10 years and fined.
The money laundering offence under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act 1992 carries an imprisonment term not exceeding 10 years, a fine not exceeding $500,000, or both.
Lastly, carrying on a business to provide any type of payment service in Singapore without a licence, under Section 5 of the Payment Services Act 2019, has a fine not exceeding $125,000, an imprisonment term not exceeding three years, or both.
“The Police take a serious stance against any person who may be involved in scams, and perpetrators will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” said SPF.
To avoid being an accomplice to crimes, members of the public should always reject requests by others to use your bank account or mobile lines, as you will be held accountable if these are linked to crimes.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.
Anyone with information on such scams may call the Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000 or submit information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. All information will be kept strictly confidential./TISG
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