Beware of tech support scams: Police

File photo showing a man using a laptop at a cafe. At least four reports of such tech support scams have been made in January.
File photo showing a man using a laptop at a cafe. At least four reports of such tech support scams have been made in January.PHOTO: ST FILE

Victims lost more than $28,000 last year after they were tricked into buying software for fake computer virus infections, police said yesterday.

Latest figures released by the police also showed that at least four reports of such tech support scams have been made so far this year.

There have been at least two variants of such scams, said police, who have cautioned the public against falling for such tricks.

In the first variant, victims see a pop-up message on their computer screens saying their computers have been infected with a virus, or their passwords and information could have been leaked.

They are then provided with a toll-free telephone number to contact to resolve the issue.

During the call, victims speak to operators claiming to be employees from tech companies such as Microsoft or Apple.

They are then directed to a website and advised to download an application or enter commands into their computers. These actions allow scammers to gain remote access to victims' computers, which they can then control.

 
 
 

In the second variant of the scam, victims receive unsolicited calls from individuals informing them that their bank account details have been compromised. They are told that money has been transferred out of their accounts.

Victims are then told to download an application or software to allow the caller to gain access to the victims' computers, so that they can receive help.

In most of the cases, the scammers told victims that they needed to purchase "anti-virus software" to fix their computers.

The victims were asked to transfer money or provide personal particulars, such as their NRIC number as well as credit and debit card details, to facilitate the purchase.

The scammers then made unauthorised transactions.

Some have also allowed the scammers to access their e-mail accounts by providing their passwords, allowing scammers to misuse their e-mail accounts to commit other scams.

To provide information on such scams, call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000, or visit www.police.gov.sg/iwitness

For scam-related advice, call the anti-scam helpline on 1800-722-6688 or go to www.scamalert.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2019, with the headline 'Beware of tech support scams: Police'. Print Edition | Subscribe