Scammers posing as tech support staff tried to cheat 2 people out of life savings; police issue alert

The incitement and carrying out of actions that aim to disrupt essential call centre operations in Singapore is illegal.
The incitement and carrying out of actions that aim to disrupt essential call centre operations in Singapore is illegal.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Scammers impersonating technical support staff from local telecommunications companies or government agencies are on the prowl, the police cautioned in an alert to the public on Thursday (Oct 14).

This comes after two people almost lost their life savings to the perpetrators last month. The scammers had gained access to their computers and tried to transfer more than $300,000 from each person's bank account.

Fortunately, vigilant bank officers at OCBC as well as its fraud surveillance system detected the suspicious transfer requests and the bank contacted the duo. It stopped the transactions when it learnt that they were not authorised.

The scammers operate by phoning their victims and claiming to be from either a government agency or a telecommunications company, said the police.

These "tech support staff" would tell the victims that their Wi-Fi routers are being used for illegal purposes. They may also tell the victims that their computers or mobile devices have been infected with viruses.

The victims would then be instructed to install remote access software, such as TeamViewer or AnyDesk, so that the scammers can be granted access to the computers or devices.

Once the scammers gain access, they would ask for the victims' Internet banking information and use it to transfer money out of the victims' bank accounts.

The police reminded the public that no legitimate service provider would ask for Internet banking details.

If a person is already caught in such a scam, however, he should turn off his computer immediately to cut off the scammers' access, the police said.

He should then change his Internet banking details, remove unauthorised payees from his accounts and report the incident to the bank.

He should also make a police report.