The Straits Times says

Dealing with scourge of online scams

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Scammers using fake text messages have targeted at least 469 OCBC Bank customers in recent phishing scams in which the victims have lost around $8.5 million in total. OCBC is not the only bank to have been targeted by fraudsters: Customers of DBS Bank or POSB, too, have felt their malevolence. Indeed, banking scams are part of a wider criminal use of the Internet to compromise everyday computer and online activity, to say nothing of threatening telephone calls from fake authorities that make victims drop their guard and composure to go along with the tricksters' demands. Scams are nothing new. If anything, they are like a mutating virus which evolves constantly, updating its technique every time the devious methods of a previous attack are uncovered, revealed publicly and dealt with.

Sophistication marks the attack on OCBC customers. It is apparent that scammers have access to advanced software that enables them to spoof telecommunications services and send SMSes that appear in the same threads used by real organisations. Even if victims do not provide their one-time passwords, they fall prey when they enter other bank details on fraudulent sites. In the circumstances, customers are entitled to ask whether Internet banking remains as safe as it is claimed to be. It is one thing for banks to say that their security systems have not been compromised, but another when unsuspecting customers find themselves duped of their money, which sometimes cannot be recovered.

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