Watch out for more social media and online love scams, warns police

Scammers are increasingly using social media platforms and dating websites such as QQ, WeChat, Facebook, Line and OkCupid to target victims.
Scammers are increasingly using social media platforms and dating websites such as QQ, WeChat, Facebook, Line and OkCupid to target victims. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Social media users, beware. Scammers are increasingly using social media platforms and dating websites such as QQ, WeChat, Facebook, Line and OkCupid to target victims, the police said in an advisory on Tuesday (Nov 8).

Typical scams involve victims transferring money overseas to someone they do not know well or have never met personally. These scams fall into three categories: impersonation of China officials, foreign investment and Internet love.

In the impersonation scam, victims receive messages from a spoofed local telephone number containing "999" or a spoofed China telephone number containing "110" for the Chinese police.  They are told that they have committed criminal offences, and are instructed to provide more information, such as their Internet banking details and One-Time Password (OTP), or directed to a fake Singapore Police Force or Chinese police website to key in their banking details.

The scammers then use the victim's Internet banking accounts to make illegal transactions. In some cases, victims are instructed by the scammers to transfer money using a bitcoin machine at Hong Lim Complex. The transfer involves scanning a QR Code provided by the scammers, and depositing money into the machine.

In the foreign investment scam, victims receive messages from people who claim to be brokers or staff from Hong Kong banks and financial security firms. They are offered investment packages that promise returns of 10 to 50 times the amount invested, and instructed to transfer money to banks in Hong Kong and China.

In the love scam, scammers befriend victims online, sometimes developing romantic relationships, before asking for a loan. Victims are typically instructed to transfer money to banks in Hong Kong and China.

The police advised the public to take the following precautions when contacted by potential scammers on social media platforms:

- Call the public agency's official telephone number to verify that they have contacted you, as it is unlikely for government agencies to send unsolicited messages or make unsolicited calls to the public on social media for official matters.

- Ignore instructions to remit or transfer money. Do not give out personal information and bank account details to strangers.

- Exercise caution when befriending strangers through social media platforms, and be wary when asked to send money overseas.

- Call a friend or talk to a relative before you act.

- If in doubt, or if you have information related to such crimes, call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000, or 999 for urgent police assistance.