Beware Of These Online Scams In Singapore & Protect Yourself
Jan 20, 2021
The Internet has made things a lot safer for us with things like two-step verifications and security codes. Besides, people are much more aware of their rights and how to protect their privacy.
Here’s the problem:
Scam artists and hackers have become more astute too.
That’s why they’ve upped their game with sly manipulation tactics, from fake websites to direct messages. Remember that still, a lot of your personal information is stored online, particularly when you’re on unsecured websites.
Do you know games like “Your Game of Thrones name is your pet’s name and your childhood street name”? Yeah, that’s one way to find more about people and even bypass their security questions.
So, do you want to find out more about online scams and how to stay safe? What type of scams are there? Loan scams? Love scams?
You’re on the right page! Keep scrolling down.
1. Internet Love Scams
Remember those times ten or fifteen years ago when you’d go to a bar to meet someone?
Those rapid heartbeats, the excitement; your eyes are looking across the room. Then there are the anxiety, the despair, and the sweaty palms.
Single people arguably have it better today with dating apps like Tinder, allowing you to meet someone with the exact expectations and needs as you without any tension. However, these apps are teeming with scammers.
Here’s how you know it is an online scam play out:
The scammer filters several profiles looking for specific indicators of wealth. Perhaps you’ve disclosed your job position or have lots of Instagram pics from Tenerife.
Anyway, if you fit their profile, they’ll know how to hook you.
These love scam artists have literal playbooks with scripts that they distribute inside a network. What’s more, they have engagement rates for each scenario!
According to Forbes, these scammers:
– Usually hunt for middle-aged single people, particularly wealthier women
– Upload attractive pictures on their social accounts
– Often pretend to be from your area, but claim to be abroad for school or work
They’ll hook you by playing on your insecurities. Now, they’ll pretend something’s wrong; either they’re supposedly in an accident or lost their money, so they can’t return home, etc.
At this point, you’re supposed to send them cash, or they’ll use you to launder money from other people.
Some scammers can send you small gifts themselves to hook you. They can even reject your money before reeling you in for the jackpot – it’s all part of their plan.
Here’s what you do: Stay vigilant at all times and don’t trust anybody. Try to see beyond the usual scripts and pick-up lines. These fraudsters will try to keep their mysterious aura on, so they’ll avoid video calls or face-to-face meets.
If you have any doubts, listen to your instinct!
Before you apply for a loan, use a personal loan calculator to get an estimated value first!
Warning: Never tell anyone your passwords or credit card details. Don’t even share your home address. Instead, Google everyone you meet. Beware of incomplete or unused social media accounts – even if the other person uses the privacy reason.
2. Job Scams
The police warn Singaporeans against job scams because they’ve become more frequent in the last few years. So, if you’ve just lost your job and are desperate for a new place to work, you’re more likely to fall prey to these fraudsters.
Here’s the usual start of an online scam:
You see an ad on social media or even a job opening on a secure portal. But this position isn’t like any other because it’s either too good to be true either you need to do something weird.
For instance, you’re supposed to pay a registration fee. In this case – you guessed it – the fraudsters simply take your money and ghost you.
Another common online scam starts with a decent-sounding job:
– Assistant purchaser
– Stock taker
– Participants in a trial
After you’ve agreed, the scammers can ask you to disclose your:
– IC number
– Various phone security codes
– One-time passwords
They’ll then use this info to tap into your phone lines and purchase credit cards.
Conversely, fraudsters can employ you and then ask you to:
– Process fund transfers through your accounts and online banking service
– Open bank accounts using your name
– Receive donations in your accounts and then deposit that cash in a crypto kiosk
Warning: Never take a job from an iffy company and never make a down payment to secure it.
3. Social Media Impersonation
Social media impersonations are a common online scam in Singapore: about 1,200 were reported just in the first semester in 2020. By comparison, only 83 such cases happened in 2019.
So, here’s what can happen:
One of your friends’ social media accounts can be hacked and duplicated. The fraudsters use your friend’s photos and info to create a spoof social media account.
Next, they will impersonate your friends, usually asking for your:
– Mobile number
– Internet banking details
– Various OTPs
They’ll pretend this info is essential for entering a contest or grabbing a last-minute deal on Lazada or Shoppee.
If you agree to send them these details, the fraudsters will use them to steal money from your bank accounts or mobile wallets.
Warning: Don’t share this personal info with anyone, especially on social media. If you want to help a loved one, you should call them directly and double-check if your conversation wasn’t based on a scam.
4. Loan Scams
Loan scams are widespread in Singapore. Just imagine wanting to purchase an expensive item or going through a financial crisis. Perhaps you’ve been demoted, or your premature baby needs emergency surgery.
That’s when you get a WhatsApp message from a supposedly licensed moneylender in Singapore.
Or, you’re searching for 24-hour licensed lenders at 2am on a Saturday and see a Google Ad for one.
Here’s the problem:
Loan sharks’ websites look professional. Most times, they’re even informative.
So once you agree to take money from them, the problems start. They can double your loan sum within a week. They can triple your interest rates. They can extort and threaten you. Here are some tips to deal with loan shark harassment.
It’s not pretty.
So, you have to recognise the tell-tale signs, such as:
– Advertising on other media apart from business and consumer directories, their websites, or their headquarters
– Getting a direct message
– No contract
– Asking for a down payment
– Trying to withhold your ID as a security
– Asking for your passwords
Warning: Check MinLaw’s list of licensed moneylenders before signing with anybody.
5. Home Rental Scams
Home rental scams are a frequent online scam in Singapore because many people are now house-hunting on their devices. So, a fraudster can put up an ad and offer you a great deal on a property that’s exactly your dream home.
You visit the place, and it looks legit.
But there’s a catch:
You have to give the supposed owners a massive down payment to secure the place.
Once you do, the scammers will flee with your money. And guess what: the property wasn’t even theirs, to begin with.
Conversely, if you’ve kept your discussion online-only, that apartment you were looking at might even be entirely fake.
Warning: Use Google street view to check for other photos or visit the property directly. Google the owners as well.
6. E-Commerce Scams
E-commerce scams create a sense of urgency and FOMO. For example, if you’ve visited too many unsecured portals, answered one too many online quizzes, or accepted too many cookies, fraudsters will know what you want.
Let’s say you want an AirPod Max but can’t afford to pay $850.
You’ve looked at it, clicked on ads, watched the videos. Next thing you know, you see an ad for a $150 AirPod Max. Bonus: it’s a special deal that will expire in an hour.
Chances are you’ll click on that ad.
Here are some tips to avoid these online scams:
– Don’t buy from people who want you to transfer them the cash directly instead of going through the platform they’re selling on
– Don’t pay an advance or the full price for the products you’re getting on a peer-to-peer selling platform
– Check the sellers’ reviews and ratings before doing business with them
Warning: The fraudster can change their IP and pretend to be someone else to target you again. Contact the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) with plenty of screenshots to prove the scam to avoid this.
Online Scams Conclusion
Anybody can fall prey to an online scam so remember to stay hyper-aware at all times. These fraudsters know how to play on your feelings and FOMO.
So, once you’ve spotted someone phishing you, report them ASAP.
You can contact ScamAlert if you’re unsure and want to ease your mind. This website is under the National Crime Prevention Council, so the staff knows what they’re doing. They have lots of helpful information, and they’ll help you get out of trouble.
Alternatively, contact the Singapore Police if you feel like you’re in danger – perhaps a loan shark is threatening your life or someone’s stolen your money.
Remember to notify the bank, too, if your account’s been compromised.
So, the moral of the story is to double-check your loan providers and avoid deals that sound too good to be true. Instead of getting a product or a job that seems fishy, consider a loan to help you through the bad times.
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