Spike in online scams involving Nintendo Switch consoles; $21,000 cheated from victims

There have been at least 53 police reports lodged since February. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - The police have warned of a spike in online scams involving the popular Nintendo Switch video game console, with at least 53 police reports made since February.

In such cases, victims did not receive the console after responding to online advertisements. The total amount cheated was at least $21, 000, a police spokesman said.

On Wednesday (April 1), The Straits Times reported that sales of games and gaming accessories have soared in recent weeks as people turn to gaming given the increasingly stringent restrictions on social gatherings during the Covid-19 outbreak.

These include the Nintendo Switch and Sony PlayStation 4 gaming consoles, as well as peripherals such as gaming chairs.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, the police advised potential buyers to buy high-value items from reputable sources. "If the price is too good to be true, it probably is," they said.

To verify if a seller is legitimate, buyers should also look at information in a seller's profile, such as the age of the account and number of positive reviews.

"Whenever possible, pay only upon delivery. Opt for in-built payment options which can offer buyer protection instead of making direct bank transfers," the police added.

A number of scams relating to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have emerged in recent weeks.

In February, four men and a woman were arrested for allegedly cheating customers over face masks sold on online marketplace Carousell.

The Health Ministry has also warned of scammers using automated voice calls, or impersonating its staff members and contact tracing personnel, to ask for personal information including financial details.

And on Monday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned of a phishing scam being circulated via e-mail.

The e-mail claims to have been sent on behalf of the Government by Mr Lee using his personal e-mail account. It gives an update on the virus outbreak and encourages people to respond with contributions and thoughts.

"These are unscrupulous characters trying to exploit the current crisis to dupe you... If you receive such an e-mail, do not respond to it," Mr Lee said.

"Also do not provide any personal information. And please do not forward it to your friends and family."

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