Hackers target Challenger, Harvey Norman in scams

Firms warn customers to be wary of fake sites used in attempt to stage phishing attacks

In less than a week, hackers have impersonated electronic giants Challenger and Harvey Norman, in a bid to stage phishing attacks by directing customers to fake sites.

Yesterday, both firms issued advisories about such scams, reiterating the warnings they had given a week earlier, on Sept 3.

In Challenger's case, it involves an SMS sent to its customers that falsely claims they won a mobile phone in a contest. They are then led to a website where they are asked to give their credit card details to pay for a processing fee.

Challenger told The Straits Times yesterday it communicates with customers only through its official Facebook page, app and shopping sites. It does not do so via SMS.

"Challenger would like to remind members of the public to only trust promotions and information shared on our official communication channels, which include posts made on our official Challenger Facebook page, notifications and messages via our ValueClub app and ValueClub e-mails, or on our Hachi.tech shopping site," said its spokesman.

She did not explain how the hackers obtained the contact details of the customers, but acknowledged there have been scams and fake sites using the firm's name.

The spokesman urged customers to contact the company at voice@challenger.sg to verify the authenticity of any messages they receive from Challenger.

Separately, Harvey Norman posted an alert on its website yesterday, warning that "an unknown entity has been impersonating the firm through Facebook".

The fake Facebook page, which has been removed, was named "Harvey Norman-Singapore", which resembles the legitimate "Harvey Norman Singapore" page.


The company said on its website: "Please take note that this Facebook page is not endorsed by Harvey Norman Singapore."

The website also showed screenshots of the fraudulent account.

Harvey Norman advises people not to click on the link or open any attachments on the Facebook page.

The company also said on its website: "Harvey Norman will not request for your personal information or credit card details via unsolicited messages."

Instances of fake news have been circulating online recently.

On Aug 24, the police issued an advisory debunking fake online reports about extreme violence and "turf wars" between gangs Omega and Salakau in Singapore.

On Aug 16, the Monetary Authority of Singapore warned people that a website was soliciting bitcoin investments by using fabricated comments from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The website was designed to look like it was linked to Singapore Press Holdings.

• Not sure if something is fake news? Readers can send an e-mail with their questions and a link to the suspect article to askst@sph.com.sg

• Reports published can be found on the ST website under a special "fake news debunked" section at http://str.sg/fake-news

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2019, with the headline 'Hackers target Challenger, Harvey Norman in scams'. Print Edition | Subscribe