The Crime Prevention Council and Singapore Police force has recently launched an anti-scam campaign to raise awareness of online scams in Singapore. The number of people falling prey to the 10 worst online scams went up by 156% from 806 cases in 2013 to 2064 last year, according to the statistics from the police. The money lost by the victims went up by over 40% from $9.6 million in 2013 to about $13.6 million last year. Here we highlight some of these common scams so that you do not fall prey to them!
Online Purchase Scam
How to spot: Scammers ‘sell’ expensive electronice gadgets such as smartphone, laptops and tablets but these goods never arrived, or are ‘late’ due to mix up in delivery orders. Payments are often made upfront without any guarantee on arrival of goods.
How to avoid: Those who regularly buy goods online should always remember to buy from reputable sellers to prevent being scammed. Never give your bank account numbers or credit card numbers to anyone you do not know. If possible, ask for cash on delivery payment method and check the goods before handing over your money.
How to spot: This happens when you do a video chat with a stranger and they may record what you reveal and use it to blackmail you. Female con artists are often used as a bait.
How to avoid: Be careful when befriending people online; you should never agree to performing any compromising acts in front of the webcam and inform the Police immediately if anyone attempts to extort money from you.
Money Mule Scam
How to spot: “Money mules” are people who are used to transfer and launder stolen money that are often acquired through illegal means. You will be promised a huge commission for simply receiving or transferring funds out from your account. Individuals being used as money mules may be willing participants or can sometimes even be unaware that they are being made used of to commit fraud.
How to avoid: Your bank account should only be used for your own transactions. Only receive or transfer out funds to people you personnaly know. If you suspect you have received illegal funds, do not touch them and lodge a police report immediately.
Room Rental Scam
How to spot: Scammers may post as agents or property owners, feigning to rent out a housing unit or room to collect deposits before renting. Sometimes, these units do not exist at all or they may not have the authority to rent.
How to avoid: Visit the unit to verify its existence and ask for original documents to check the identity of the renter/owner. If you’re dealing with a real estate agent, check the Public Register of Estate Agents and Salespersons through the Council for Estate Agents (CEA) website. Pay any deposits and rent to the owner directly via cheques and only when the tenancy agreement has been signed.