Scams spike in circuit breaker period

There has been a spike in the number of scams during the circuit breaker period.

A total of 151 phishing scams were reported between April 7 and May 7, up from a monthly average of 20 in the first three months this year.

There were 137 such scams in the first four months, well up on the eight for the same period last year, noted the police.

Victims typically receive messages or e-mails purportedly from banks, agencies or firms that try to trick them into clicking a link with false claims such as a government Covid-19 payout. The website will then ask for credit or debit card details, among other things.

The police are also looking into seven suspects over loan scams after their bank accounts were used to receive money from a victim who had visited a fake money-lending website that asked for payments.

Similar sites ask for details like NRIC numbers, addresses and contact numbers that can then be used by loan sharks and others to further harass or scam victims.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said some of these scams misused its name and logo in e-mails that asked victims to pay "validation fees" or go to an "MAS portal".

Since last month, 16 people have reported such e-mails, and nine said they were cheated of over $50,000 in total.

The MAS does not handle any loan applications or require any validation fees and it does not collect fees of any nature from members of the public.

Licensed moneylenders are not allowed to make cold calls or send unsolicited texts. Any such communication should be ignored. They must also meet a person physically at the approved place of business before granting loans.

The Ministry of Law website lists licensed moneylenders.

Those with information on such scams should call the police on 1800-255-0000. Anyone needing help against scams can call 1800-722-6688 or visit www.scamalert.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2020, with the headline 'Scams spike in circuit breaker period'. Print Edition | Subscribe