SINGAPORE - A new twist of the loan scam has surfaced and victims have lost at least $110,000 since September, the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) and police warned on Monday (Oct 14).
In the latest ruse, the scammers pretend to be officers from MinLaw or the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), or both, the police said.
More than 20 police reports have been made on this since last month.
The victims were contacted by the scammers after they replied to unsolicited messages offering loans.
They were then sent PDF documents that instructed them to pay MinLaw or MAS, or both, a deposit and 7 per cent goods and services tax for the loan before it can be approved.
The intention was to fool the victims into believing that they were in contact with a licensed moneylender, police said.
Some victims also received another PDF document tricking them into thinking that their loan requests had been processed.
When the victims refused to make payments, the scammers would harass them, claiming that the loans had already been approved and a processing fee would be incurred if the loans were cancelled.
Police said that a licensed moneylender is not allowed to make any cold calls or send unsolicited text messages to members of the public.
It is also lawfully obliged to verify the identity and particulars of the borrower at the moneylender's office.
A licensed moneylender will also not ask for any payment to be made before a loan is disbursed, or for securing the loan's disbursement. An administrative fee may be charged after the loan has been granted, but this is usually deducted from the loan principal.