Ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) Ministers Heng Swee Keat and Josephine Teo revealed last week that their names have been fraudulently used by websites running scams.
On Wednesday (15 May), Manpower Minister Josephine Teo reported that a fraudulent website is falsely attributing comments to her in order to solicit users to sign up for an online platform.
The online platform requires users, taken in by what appears to be the Minister’s endorsement, to provide their credit card or bank details and to make a deposit.
Asserting that the website is “highly deceptive and misleading,” Ms Teo noted that the website uses facts about the updated Employment Act to “trick readers into believing the whole post.”
Warning netizens that “the statements attributed to me about launching the online platform are completely false,” Ms Teo urged members of the public to “exercise extreme caution and to avoid providing any financial and personal information to the online platform, which may be operating outside of Singapore.”
The Minister also took the opportunity to assert that the “problem of deliberate falsehoods is serious.” Her post, which came days after the anti-fake news law Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) was passed in Parliament, continued:
“In this case, someone could have suffered financial losses for trusting the wrong information. Anyone who suspects that an investment could be fraudulent or misused for other unlawful activities should report such cases to the Police.”
Two days after Ms Teo published her post, Deputy Prime Minister and presumptive future PM Heng Swee Keat highlighted a similar case involving him, on his own Facebook page.
On Friday (17 May), Mr Heng wrote: “Many fraudulent reports have been circulating misleading comments attributed to me. One even claimed that I invested in a new company. These are untrue.”
Echoing Ms Teo’s call for members of the public to exercise caution and beware of such online scams, Mr Heng – who also serves as Finance Minister – wrote:
“Many Singaporeans have fallen victim to online scams, and I urge everyone to exercise caution. Do check the source of information, especially before providing personal and financial details such as credit card numbers and passwords.”
Earlier, Olympic gold-medallist Joseph Schooling recalled his own experience of being misrepresented in advertisements he had no part of, as he expressed support for POFMA.
Calling himself a “victim of fake news,” Schooling wrote on social media that he sees the importance of dealing with online falsehoods. Acknowledging that there is “lots of ongoing debate” about POFMA, in a Facebook post published last Thursday, Schooling wrote:
“Just last year, there were online advertisements going around with the headlines “Schooling Reveals His Genius Wealth Strategies” and “What Schooling Is Doing With All His Wealth”. I was completely stumped when I came to know about it.
“These perpetrators misused my name and images to spread falsehoods. I never endorsed any of these advertisements – and I was really worried that my friends would be duped into investing, thinking that I made a fortune through these schemes.”
Urging his followers to “say no to falsehoods,” Schooling wrote that it is “scary just thinking about the consequences of such untruths going around, and how much damage it could have done to me, my friends and family.”
Revealing that he is well-read on how other nations have been impacted by fake news, Schooling added that the extent of the damage falsehoods can cause can be hefty.
While some netizens praised Schooling’s views on the anti-fake news law, others suggested that he could be confused about what POFMA really is about:
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