1,200 phishing cases since Dec; e-wallet scams return

Since last month, at least 1,200 cases of phishing scams have been reported, and a scam variant involving e-wallet applications has re-emerged, said the police on Thursday.

The scammers would apply for e-wallets with information gathered from victims who had received unsolicited calls on messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Viber and IMO, the police said in a media release.

It is not known how many of the 1,200 cases involved e-wallet scams.

The callers would claim to be from a government agency such as the Singapore Police Force or Ministry of Manpower.

They would often display the official insignia or profile pictures of officers from these agencies. Some would even start a video call while wearing a uniform similar to those worn by police officers.

They would ask the victim to provide his personal information, banking credentials and one-time password (OTP) for verification purposes or to assist in investigations.

The scammers would then create an e-wallet using apps such as DBS PayLah!, Singtel Dash or GrabPay in the victim's name, and top up the e-wallet using the victim's bank account. In some cases, the victim was told to do cash top-ups to the e-wallets at AXS machines or convenience stores.

The victim would later receive notifications that various transactions had been made from his bank account via the e-wallet.

The victims would realise they had been scammed only when they contacted their bank to verify these transactions.

Noting that the calls were not made by their officers, the police said: "Government agencies will never contact members of the public via messaging applications to obtain personal information, banking credentials or OTPs."

They advise anyone who receives unsolicited calls to do the following:

• Ignore the instructions. No government agency will obtain personal information through a phone call.

• Never disclose personal or Internet banking details, including your NRIC number and issue date, and OTP, to anyone.

• Always verify the authenticity of the information by contacting the relevant government agencies on their official hotlines.

• Report any fraudulent transactions to your bank immediately.

Those with information on such crimes can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/ iwitness.

Those who need urgent police help can call 999. The public can visit the Scam Alert website or call the Anti-Scam Hotline on 1800-722-6688. They can also sign up to receive up-to-date messages at www.scamalert.sg/fight

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2022, with the headline 1,200 phishing cases since Dec; e-wallet scams return. Subscribe