Police warn of banking-related phishing scams after 10 people lose over $70,000

Phishing scams involving SMS messages from scammers impersonating bank staff have increased significantly. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - At least 10 people have fallen prey to banking-related phishing scams in May, losing more than $70,000.

The police issued an advisory on Sunday (May 22) warning the public of an increase in phishing scams where scammers impersonate bank staff and target victims through phone calls or SMS messages.

In one of these scams, people would receive phone calls from callers pretending to be bank employees. Victims would be told by the callers that their bank cards may have been compromised. They would ask for the victims' bank account information to enable them to resolve the matter. After the victims provided their bank account numbers, they would receive one-time passwords (OTPs) on their mobile phones. The callers would then ask the victims for the OTPs.

In another scam variant, victims would receive an SMS message stating that there were issues with their credit or debit cards, and that they should dial the number included in the SMS for assistance. After calling the number, victims would speak to scammers who would confirm that there were issues with the victims' cards. The scammers would then ask for the victims' credit or debit card details and OTPs under the pretext of assisting them.

The victims would realise that they had been scammed when they discover unauthorised transactions made from their bank accounts.

In February, the police said that victims in Singapore lost at least $633.3 million to scams last year.

Phishing scams involving SMS messages from scammers impersonating bank staff in Singapore have increased significantly, from 149 cases in 2020 to 1,021 last year.

On Thursday, The Straits Times launched its Stop Scams microsite, which features stories on scams including first-hand accounts by victims, trends in scams, how international syndicates operate and advice by experts on what to do if one has lost money to scammers.

In January, ST started the Stop Scams initiative to educate the public on how to spot scams and avoid being duped.

The microsite launch coincided with the inaugural Digital for Life Festival, which is organised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority. The festival will end on May 29.

Phishing scams involving SMS messages from scammers impersonating bank staff in Singapore have increased significantly. PHOTO: SPF

The police advised members of the public to follow crime prevention measures such as always verifying the authenticity of claims of problems with their bank accounts or cards issued by the bank with the official bank website or sources, and reporting any fraudulent transactions to their bank immediately.

Those with information about such scams are encouraged to call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit it at the police website. Members of the public who require urgent police assistance can call 999.

For more information on scams, people can visit the Scam Alert website or call the anti-scam hotline on 1800-722-6688. They can join the "Spot the Signs. Stop the Crimes" campaign on the same website by signing up as an advocate to receive up-to-date messages and share these with their family and friends.

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