SINGAPORE – At least 168 people have lost no less than $20,000 in total in e-commerce scams involving the sale of food items, such as wagyu beef and premium durians, since February.
In an advisory on Monday, the police said that scammers posing as sellers posted offers or sponsored advertisements of food items on online platforms such as Facebook.
The police added that reports have been lodged against allegedly fraudulent Facebook pages such as Grocery Retail, Department Store, Juewei Food, Baihui Mall and Ocean Fishery Exchange.
Victims who contacted the sellers on Facebook Messenger paid them via PayNow after confirming the price and quantity of the food items.
But they did not receive the goods or the seller became uncontactable.
The police have advised the public to be cautious when making online purchases by downloading the ScamShield mobile app, and enabling security features such as two-factor or multi-factor authentication for bank, social media and Singpass accounts, among other measures.
The public is also advised to check details of deals with official sources and be wary when prices seem too good to be true. Goods should be bought only from authorised and reputable sources.
They should also verify the legitimacy of sellers through customer reviews and ratings, and avoid making payment in advance to bank accounts belonging to unknown individuals.
Those who recognise such scams should alert the authorities and report the fraudulent pages to Facebook.
Singaporean actor Charlie Goh was recently scammed of $160 after seeing an advertisement on the Grocery Retail Facebook page, which has been flagged by the police.
The 34-year-old Ah Boys To Men actor and his neighbour ordered 3kg of salmon and 1kg of wagyu beef through the page but the items were never delivered. Mr Goh was blocked on Facebook Messenger after confronting the seller about his order.
In a similar incident in February, an unnamed person found a deal for durians on Facebook and paid $100 for eight boxes of the fruit, according to a recent Stomp article.
After receiving payment, the seller did not respond to the buyer’s messages and blocked him.
One of the accompanying photos in the article shows a screenshot of the conversation between the buyer and the Department Store Facebook page, also flagged by the police as a scam account.
Scam victims in Singapore lost a total of $660.7 million in 2022, with 31,728 scam cases reported.
E-commerce scams were one of the most reported scam types in 2022, and 18.3 per cent of young adults aged between 30 and 39 fell victim to such scams.
In 2022, 4,762 e-commerce scams were reported, with victims losing a total of $21.3 million, up from $5.9 million in 2021.
Anyone with information relating to such crimes or are in doubt can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.
Visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline on 1800-722-6688 for more information on scams.