Social media impersonation scams double in 2 months, with victims losing $2.2m

Scammers would often use compromised or spoofed social media accounts on Facebook or Instagram. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Even before the middle of the year was up, the number of social media impersonation scams here had already more than doubled in the span of two months.

The police said on Tuesday (Aug 4) that they received at least 1,000 reports of such scams in the first five months of the year. This is up from 466 cases in the first three months.

This means the number of cases more than doubled in two months.

Victims were cheated of at least $2.2 million from January to May, more than double the $1 million lost from January to March.

In most of the cases, victims were tricked into disclosing their credit card information and one-time passwords to scammers, the police said.

Scammers would often use compromised or spoofed social media accounts on Facebook or Instagram, where they posed as friends or followers of the victims they targeted.

They would then ask victims for their personal details such as mobile numbers or their Internet banking account details, claiming they would sign these victims up for contests or promotions on online shopping platforms Lazada or Shopee.

Victims later discovered that unauthorised fraudulent transactions - often on online platforms selling virtual currency for online games - had been made from their bank accounts and mobile wallets without their consent.

The police advised the public to be wary of unexpected requests or offers from social media contacts, especially those related to lucky draws or contests.

"Verify whether the account is legitimate by checking with your family and friends offline," the police said.

Members of the public should refrain from giving out their personal or bank account details and one-time passwords to anyone, including family and friends.

For scam-related advice, the public can call the anti-scam helpline on 1800-722-6688, or visit this website.

Those who wish to provide information on scams may call the police on 1800-255-0000, or visit this website.

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