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5 Common Scams In Singapore

As the internet has become increasingly important in our day-to-day lives, so have the risks associated with its use. It is important to ensure we protect ourselves against all scams.

February 17, 2022

Recently, a phishing scam affected over four hundred OCBC bank customers in Singapore and the amount in losses totaled over S$8 million altogether. This was one of the most widespread cases of bank-related fraud in recent times. While the number of phishing scams through email and text messages has gone up, the police warn us that this is still a growing threat.

As the internet has become increasingly important in our day-to-day lives, so have the risks associated with its use. Cyber criminals, hackers, cyber spies, spammers, phishers, identity thieves, trolls, and other malicious entities are all out to take advantage of us and make off with our money, information and personal security.

It is important to ensure we protect ourselves against all scams.


E-Commerce Scam

  

While shopping online is certainly convenient and saves a ton of time, you must also be a smart shopper and understand if the “deal” is too good to be true. Some of the items listed on Carousel may seem very tempting, with prices going for as low as 50% discount from the original price. But be mindful that there are instances when the transfer is done, the seller stops replying and become missing in action. Even if you report them, those scammers can always come back with a different IP address and as a different seller altogether.

A real case scenario happened in January 2022. The Police received several reports from victims who were purportedly cheated by an online seller selling electronic items such as mobile phones and game consoles at discounted prices on Carousell. After payments were made by the victims via bank transfers/PayNow, the seller allegedly did not deliver the items.

To prevent falling for such scams, my suggestion is to use reputable platforms like Shopee or Lazada rather than peer-to-peer selling platform. There are plenty of vouchers all year round. Choose to buy from sellers with high ratings and positive reviews. And file lodge a report with Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) if you have been scammed.


Job Scam

Job scams are becoming more prevalent as more people fall into hard times and struggle to find legitimate work. These scams may involve online offers that seem to promise jobs with high paying employers, or simple tasks such as just requiring victims to like social media posts to boost viewership.

In these cases, victims would receive unsolicited text messages, WhatsApp messages or come across advertisements online, promoting highly paid affiliate marketing related jobs. However the jobs require a fee or other conditions that must be met. The scammers might then disappear, or the job seekers might find that the supposed employer never really existed.

Do keep in mind that trustworthy job portals would not request for your financial details during registration, or for you to secure a job. Be vigilant of dubious job opportunities. It is also important to verify the company before applying for jobs with them. Do our research on the company to make sure they are legitimate before accepting a job opportunity. If they require payment before you start work or promise high returns for little effort, you might want to turn and run the other way.


Love Scam

Online dating sites can be a fun way to meet people. While it may seem like there is no harm in swiping through a few people’s photos until you find that “one,” you might want to be aware that there are several ways you could end up being a victim of fraud or identity theft.

There are incidents that after befriending an attractive person online, the person tells a tale about falling into trouble or hard times. The scammer then persists with the story to gain their victim’s trust and adoration, then asks for money as proof of love. Once the money is transferred, the scammer disappears.

These scammers usually have a playbook with scripts, pre-crafted introductions, questions, and responses to trick unsuspecting victims into falling for them. It may start off ‘innocently’ with small amounts of money to pay for a ticket back home or repair of their phone so they could keep in contact but it often escalates as the fraudsters play off their victims’ emotions.

Please do not disclose any personal information such as your credit card details or even your home address before finding out more about the other person. Additionally, check out their social media profiles which might give you an insight into their lives, or whether there’s something off about them.


Social Media Scam

Social media has become the mainstay of the internet and its impact on daily life is undeniable. However, it also opens the door to all sorts of fraud and abuse by those who may not have your best interest at heart.

Many have fallen victim to social media impersonation. Using spoofed social media accounts, fraudsters can impersonate your contacts and they would reach out to you to request for your personal information, pretending to need your help in signing up for non-existent contests or promotions online. With your personal information, they can use your money to make fraudulent transactions.

Do not be too quick to share your personal details with you “friends” or “family”. Take a step back and before responding, reach out to the original persons directly to find out if they had truly reached out to you for your details. Even so, you might want to think twice before sharing these types of information with anyone but yourself.


Investment Scam

An investment scam is a fake – but extremely appealing and highly convincing – investment opportunity. Fraudsters will impersonate real people from genuine financial services firms over the phone, email, online and post. They may also posed as “investment gurus”, offering people insider stock trading advice. And they will do all they can to convince you to put money into their schemes.

The most significant and largest fraud that was reported in recent years is the Envy Global investment fraud. It managed to swindle investors into putting in more than S$1 billion into a bogus nickel trading scheme that promised attractive returns averaging 15% every 3 months.

Documents and videos were forged to show nickel trades but no investment in nickel actually took place. Instead, the investment funds were used to fund the perpetrator’s lavish lifestyle, amounting to S$2 million per month.

What was shocking is that many of the scam victims are professionals and prominent members of the financial and legal community.

This is what I shared with my clients when they were promised of High Returns without Basis:

  • High Risk, High Return = Investment
  • High Risk, Low Return = Crap
  • Low Risk, Low Return = Fixed Deposit
  • Low Risk, High Return = SCAM

I work with MAS regulated products and companies. If you are keen to learn more about investing, book an appointment with me.


Anyone can fall victim to a scam. Taking a pause and then a step back when something seems a little too awesome. If it is too good to be true, it probably is. Do not give in to your FOMO. It might save you from becoming a victim. If you are suspicious of anything, do not divulge your personal information because it is better to be safe than sorry.

Junwen Chen

My mission is to educate and empower people to design their lives so that they can live in abundance.

Let me partner with you, to design and nurture your dreams and ultimate life goals.


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