Victims lose over $32m to business e-mail impersonation scams in first 9 months of this year: Police

A total of 276 reports were received in the first nine months of this year and a new twist of the scam is emerging.
A total of 276 reports were received in the first nine months of this year and a new twist of the scam is emerging.PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Police on Tuesday (Nov 26) warned businesses against falling for e-mail impersonation scams, with more than $32 million lost between January and September this year. 

In these scams, the victims were tricked into transferring money to business partners or to employees as salaries, only to discover later that the accounts they transferred the money to were controlled by scammers who used hacked or spoofed e-mail accounts to ask for the money.

A total of 276 reports were received in the first nine months of this year and a new twist of the scam is also emerging, the police said in a statement.

The scammers used to pretend to be chief executive officers, business partners or suppliers, but they are now also passing themselves off as employees of the company.

The police also gave tips on how to spot fake or spoofed e-mail addresses.

"Spoofed e-mail addresses used by the scammers often include slight misspellings or replacement of letters, which may not be obvious at first glance," the police said, adding: "In order to deceive the victims, the scammers may also closely mimic e-mails by using the same business logos, links to the company's website, or messaging format."

Scammers would also enclose copies of the bank statements with the employee's name to make the requests seem authentic, the police noted.

The police also advised businesses to be mindful of any new or sudden changes in payment instructions and bank accounts. They should also educate their employees about scams, especially those responsible for making fund transfers.

To prevent e-mail accounts from being hacked, strong passwords should be used and changed regularly, the police said. Anti-virus and anti-spyware software should also be kept updated.

 
 

Those who wish to provide information on such scams may call the police on 1800-255-0000, or send the information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness

For scam-related advice, they can call the anti-scam helpline on 1800-722-6688 or visit www.scamalert.sg