New bank-related phishing scam involves impersonation of Singapore government officials

Victims in such cases are asked to verify their banking or personal details.
Victims in such cases are asked to verify their banking or personal details.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Scammers have been impersonating Singapore government officials since December in what police on Tuesday (Jan 5) described as a new variant of bank-related phishing scams.

Victims in such cases receive phone calls or messages allegedly from government agencies, such as the police or Ministry of Manpower, claiming that there are issues with their bank accounts.

They are asked to verify their banking or personal details such as their Internet log-in credentials and NRIC numbers.

Unauthorised transactions are then made from the accounts.

Around 900 cases of bank-related phishing scams were reported in the first six months of 2020, a more than 25-fold increase from just 34 such cases for the same period in 2019, said the police.

Losses amounted to more than $3.6 million for the same period in 2020, added the police.

It advised members of the public to ignore callers when asked to provide banking account log-in details or personal particulars. No government agency would request such information over the phone. Scammers may mask their actual phone numbers and display a different number using ID spoofing technology, said the police.

Since April, all incoming international calls are prefixed with a plus sign.

The police advised the public to stay vigilant when receiving unexpected international calls, and reject those with spoof local numbers.

They should also never disclose their personal or Internet banking details and one-time password to anyone.

Those with information of bank-related phishing crimes should call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000, or submit it online.

They should dial 999 if urgent.

More information about scams can be found at the Scam Alert website or by calling the anti-scam hotline on 1800-722-6688.