ESM's name used by scam site: MAS

A website using Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong's name to solicit investments in bitcoins is fraudulent, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said yesterday.

It added that the site had fabricated comments attributed to Mr Goh, who is also a senior adviser to the authority.

The website asks readers to make a minimum initial deposit of $250 into a purported trading platform, Bitcoin Loophole, which would automatically initiate trades on their behalf.

It also requests credit card or bank account details.

The MAS said the statements made on the site are either false or have been taken out of context and used in a misleading way.

It warned the public to be cautious and avoid providing any financial or personal information on the site or forms linked to it.

Anyone who suspects that an investment could be fraudulent should go to the police.

The MAS noted that there have been other websites that fraudulently used the names and photos of ministers, including MAS chairman and Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and other public figures to solicit bitcoin investments.

It first warned the public about the fabricated comments attributed to Mr Tharman on Sept 18 last year.

In a screenshot of the website, a headline for an article reads: "Tharman Shanmugaratnam Invests $1 Billion for All Singapore Residents. Use HIS Method To Become Rich In Just 7 Days!"

The article describes him as a "venture capitalist" who announced that Singapore is stepping into the bitcoin cryptocurrency market.

The MAS said the statements were "completely false, apart from his observation that trading volumes in cryptocurrency are low in Singapore".

A day later, the MAS flagged a second website that was found carrying similar fake comments, also using Mr Tharman's name.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2019, with the headline 'ESM's name used by scam site: MAS'. Print Edition | Subscribe