Rise of Scams in Singapore

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2016 saw a rise in scams with many articles and police advisories citing new tactics employed by predators to cheat. A new year signifies more chances for scammers to strike and it is important to keep abreast of the high profile scams that plagued Singaporeans.

Here are 5 of the most common scams in Singapore:

1. Phone calls from officials
This scam involves the victim receiving phone calls from seemingly legitimate sources like Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore Power Services (SPS) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF). Most, if not all of the time, the caller deceives the victim by claiming unresolved issues, unpaid bills or jail time if they do not transfer money to an account.

Tip: Callers on official business will never ask for your details through the phone, much less ask for you to transfer money into a dubious bank account. Singapore Power Services will cut off your power if your bill is long overdue and will not call to ask for money. In addition, calls from the Singapore Police Force will not begin with 999.

2. Voucher scam
Inflation causes desperation and this is how scammers target their victims. They send out emails and viral texts claiming to give vouchers from a particular company like Starbucks, McDonalds and NTUC Fairprice. However, these voucher scams are phishing opportunities by swindlers looking to gain free access to your personal and private information.

Tip: If the benefit seems too good to be true, do not fall for the voucher scam. Here is how it looks like so you can avoid getting scammed.

3. Parcel scam
A scam originating from China sees “DHL officials” telling potential victims that they have parcels containing illegal items arriving in their name. In order for the victims to get these items, they have to remit money to an overseas bank account as a fine. Singaporeans looking to clear their name usually do as told and end up getting scammed.

Tip: If you are not expecting a parcel (especially one that contains illegal items), there is nothing to worry. Put down and ignore the call. No shipping company will call you to demand for money and if they do, it is usually through regular posts or email correspondents.

4. Bank scam
In 2016, victims received calls from OCBC with an automated message that requested a response. The victims would then be transferred to a Mandarin-speaking person who would ask for money to be remitted to them. The caller ID of these scams usually show that it originated from outside Singapore. Another version of this scam is when victims receive instructions through email saying that their account has been frozen.

Tip: Banks will never call you to transfer money to them. When in doubt, call your bank’s hotline to double check.

5. Home inspection scam
Some residents were approached by a couple who claimed to be from the town council. They ask to check on sofa insurance and victims were made to pay a fee for the sofa checks.

Tip: Town council members will never be allowed to collect money from you directly. Always check their identification passes and call up the relevant authority they claim to be from to double check before letting them in. Remember that there are people who want to gain access into your home to rob you.

Crooks are getting more intelligent and innovative with their ways of scheming and scamming innocent victims. Ensure that you are always on your toes and kept in the know about the latest scams in Singapore.