At least 587 victims lost $2.7 million to scammers posing as friends since start of 2022

The police said the victims would receive calls from unknown numbers with the "+" prefix. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - More than $2.7 million has been swindled from at least 587 people in phishing scams involving scammers pretending to be friends since the start of this year, said the police on Thursday (May 12).

In this month alone, at least 43 victims have been scammed, with total losses amounting to more than $177,000.

In an advisory on Thursday, the police said the victims would receive calls from unknown numbers with the "+" prefix.

Instead of identifying themselves, the callers would mislead the victims with questions such as "Guess who am I?" or "You can't remember me?".

Thinking they were acquainted, the victims would reply with the name of a friend they felt most resembled the caller's voice, said the police.

The callers would then assume the identify of that friend and claim to have lost their mobile phone or changed their contact number and ask the victims to add the "new" number to their contact list.

After a few days, the "friend" would call the victim and ask for loans because of financial difficulties or trouble with the law.

The victims would be provided with bank account numbers or phone numbers to transfer the money to, but would later discover they had been scammed after contacting the actual friend the scammer had impersonated.

The police advised the public to beware of calls with the "+" prefix, especially if they have not been expecting an international call.

The public are also advised to beware of unusual requests received via phone calls or messages even if they appear to be from family or friends.

They should verify the legitimacy of the request by checking with family or friends using alternative means such as physical meet-ups or through other established contact details.

Those with information related to such scams are advised to call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit it online at their website.

For more information on scams, people can visit the Scam Alert website or call the anti-scam hotline on 1800-722-6688.

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