Victims of scams on WeChat lost over $70,000

Many victims have been cheated by scammers operating on Chinese social media app WeChat, the Singapore Police Force said yesterday. In all, more than $70,000 was lost by those who reported the scam.

The scammers had promised to sell various items, such as online gaming credits or foreign currency, at attractive rates.

For example, victims playing Chinese online games would encounter a pop-up window advertising the sale of in-game credits at an attractive discount. This pop-up would instruct people to add the scammer on WeChat and register for accounts on a website so they could receive the credits. The registration would require the victims' personal particulars and bank account details. The scammers did not deliver the in-game credits after the victims paid up and they became uncontactable on WeChat.

Others responding to advertisements offering online money changing services at attractive rates were also asked to add the scammers on WeChat. The victims were asked to transfer money to local bank accounts to receive the currencies in the victims' WeChat/Alipay accounts. But after payments were made, the victims also did not receive any money from the scammers, who would also block the victim on WeChat and become uncontactable.

Police have the following advice:

• Exercise caution when responding to online advertisements. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

• Bear in mind that the party you are dealing with online is a stranger. Avoid engaging in a transaction if you are required to communicate with the other party outside of the website.

• Do not disclose personal information like your bank account details over the Internet.

• Use the services of licensed money changers. It is against the law for anyone to operate a money-changing business without a valid licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

• When in doubt, call the anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or visit www.scamalert.sg.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2017, with the headline 'Victims of scams on WeChat lost over $70,000'. Print Edition | Subscribe