SINGAPORE - He turned up at the booth wanting to find out more about the growing menace of scams and looking for avenues to upgrade his digital skills.
At 79, Mr Jeffrey Yeo is aware how vulnerable seniors are to perpetrators of scams who leverage technology to con unknowing individuals.
Speaking at The Straits Times' Stop Scams exhibition at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday (May 21), Mr Yeo said: "Technology such as QR code is interesting yet confusing and complex for the elderly. That is why I want to learn how to do all these things correctly, and make sure that I do not make any mistakes and keep myself safe online."
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) launched the inaugural Digital for Life Festival at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday and The Straits Times, in partnership with Singapore Pools, set up the Stop Scams exhibit to highlight its reporting of various scams, the number of scam variants that have cropped up and also to educate the public on the growing scourge.
The festival will run from May 21 to May 29.
Mr Chan Kee Siak, founder and chief executive of Exabytes, said many continue to fall prey to scams because of a lack of awareness.
"Scams have taken on a digital form today. Many of the elderly are not familiar with technology, but they are already using smartphones, so the chances of them being scammed are even higher," said Mr Chan.
"The information (provided at the Stop Scams exhibition) is useful because it is real and about actual things that happened, and not just a high level statistic used to scare people."
A housewife, who wanted to be known only as Ms Rydah, recalled an incident when she was on the receiving end of a police impersonation scam.
Said the 36-year-old: "The moment I picked up the video call, I knew it was a scam. Everyone knew about it already because there was an announcement on the television screen under my block."
After spending some time at The Straits Times' booth, Mr Goh Tong Wah, 71, said he will now be more careful and will think twice before reacting to an e-mail or an SMS asking for information.
The retiree said: "If there is anything that you are unsure about, just ask. Do not try and click on the link, especially if it concerns money, and never reveal your passwords to others."
"It is important for the elderly to come and learn.
"Knowing something is better than not knowing anything," he added.
More than 110 partners are participating in the Digital for Life Festival. There are interactive workshops and various other activities, and the public can sign up for free and pick up useful digital skills such as coding.
The Straits Times' exhibit will be at Suntec on May 21 and 22 and at Heartbeat@Bedok next weekend. On weekdays, there will be virtual events including the Stop Scams webinar on May 25.
Some of the main activities are:
- IM-OK device by Lions Befrienders: An activity targeted at seniors to detect depression and anxiety using artificial intelligence. It also simulates possible scam scenarios for the elderly to learn how to protect themselves.
- Introduction to Block Coding by Science Centre: Students will be introduced to robotics and science using CoderZ, a basic block coding programme that helps develop problem-solving and design-thinking skills.