More than $1.2m lost by 280 victims to scammers pretending to be friends

There has been a resurgence of a particular scam where scammers contact victims pretending to be their friends and asking for financial assistance. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - At least 280 people have fallen prey since January to phishing scams involving scammers pretending to be friends, with total losses amounting to more than $1.2 million, said the police on Friday (March 11).

There has been a resurgence of a particular scam where scammers contact victims through phone calls, pretending to be their friends and asking for financial assistance after, said the police in a release.

In these cases, the victims received phone calls from unknown numbers with the "+" prefix.

When answered, the callers would not identify themselves and instead mislead victims with questions such as "Guess who am I?" or "You can't remember me?".

Thinking they were acquainted, the victim would then reply with the name of a friend whom they felt sounded similar to the caller, said the police.

The caller would then assume the identify of said friend and claim to have lost their mobile phone or changed their contact number and ask the victims to update their number in their contact list.

After a few days, the caller would call the victims and ask for loans due to financial difficulties or troubles with the law and provide bank account numbers or phone numbers to transfer money to.

Victims would discover that they have been scammed only after contacting their actual friends whom the scammers have impersonated, said the police.

People are advised to beware of calls with the "+" prefix, especially if they are not expecting an international call, and of unusual requests received via phone calls or messages even if they appear to be from family or friends.

They are advised to also verify the legitimacy of the request by checking with family and friends through alternative means, such as physical meet-ups or using previously 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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