SINGAPORE - Victims of a new type of loan scam in Singapore were cheated of more than $20,000 in the first four months of this year, with at least 15 police reports made.
The police issued an advisory on Tuesday (May 10) warning the public of it.
The scam starts with victims receiving unsolicited text messages offering loans.
When victims respond, they are informed that it is necessary to share their SingPass details for the scammers to verify their employment status to facilitate loan approval.
After receiving the victims' SingPass IDs, passwords and SMS one-time passwords, the scammers use the details to create bank accounts or sign up for telephone lines, the police said.
In some cases, victims were told to transfer money to bank accounts provided as payment for administrative or collateral fees before the loan could be disbursed.
"Victims would discover that they had been scammed only when the scammers failed to disburse the loan as promised," the police said.
The police on Tuesday reminded the public that licensed moneylenders are not allowed to approach potential borrowers via text messages, phone calls or social media platforms.
A fully online loan transaction is also not allowed, and licensed moneylenders must meet borrowers at an approved place of business to verify their identities before granting loans.
The list of licensed moneylenders can be found on the Ministry of Law's Registry of Moneylenders website.
Any administrative fee will not be sought from the borrower before the loan is dispensed. Any such fee should instead be deducted from the loan principal.
The police advised people to ignore or block and report unsolicited text messages offering loans. They should not provide personal information such as their NRIC, SingPass or bank account details to anyone.
Releasing the crime figures for 2021, the police said victims in Singapore lost at least $633.3 million to scams last year.
The sum is almost 2½ times the $268.4 million lost to scammers the previous year.
Loan scams were the fifth most common scam type reported last year - with 2,274 cases reported and $18.3 million cheated - after job scams, non-banking-related phishing scams, e-commerce scams and investment scams.