Over $3 million lost since January this year to scammers impersonating friends

Victims would receive calls from unknown numbers with the "+" prefix, from people who would not identify themselves. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - At least 80 people have fallen prey to a scam in the last two weeks where scammers contact victims through phone calls pretending to be their friend and then ask for financial help.

Police on Thursday (May 26) said there have been at least 667 victims since January this year, with losses amounting to more than $3 million in total.

Victims would receive calls from unknown numbers with the "+" prefix, from people who would not identify themselves.

To make the victims think they are friends, they would instead ask: "Guess who am I?" or "You can't remember me?".

When the victims answer with the name of a friend, the caller would then assume the identity of that friend and claim to have lost their mobile phone or changed their contact number.

The caller would get the victim to update their number in the contact list.

A few days later, the caller would contact the victim and ask for a loan to help with their financial difficulties or trouble with the law.

Victims would be provided with a local bank account or phone numbers to transfer money to, and would only discover that they had been scammed after contacting their actual friends whom the scammers had impersonated.

Police say the public should be aware of calls with the "+" prefix, especially if they are not expecting an international call.

They should also be wary of unusual requests received from phone calls or messages, even if they appear to be from family or friends.

They should always verify whether requests are legitimate by checking with family and friends through alternative means such as physical meet-ups, video calls or e-mail.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.