Top 10 Ongoing Scams in S’pore You Should Know About


Scams, I know you’re probably tired of hearing about them, but did you know that nearly half of scam victims were young people between the age of 20 and 39 years old? Yup, you read that right.

Especially since e-commerce scams are on the rise, it’s a good time to be aware of the potential scams people fall for and learn to spot them. Better to be safe than sorry, isn’t it?

1. E-commerce Scams

E-commerce scams usually involved the sales of electronic gadgets, COVID-19 related items and personal accessories.

One such case involved a couple being cheated out of $270k for purchasing staycations on Carousell. They expressed that they had gone through the seller’s reviews as usual and surprisingly saw that “he was quite reliable,” according to The Straits Times.

Assured, the couple then went on to pay a hefty S$29,000 for their staycations at nine hotel suites.

Using excuses such as cancellation fees and a frozen bank account, the scammer managed to amass S$277,000 from the poor couple over four months.

By showing them the money in his bank account, he was able to convince them that he could pay them back, which led them to give him more money to pay for the made-up excuses.

And that’s one case out of the 3,354 cases of e-commerce scams in 2020, and one out of the many undetected ongoing scams.

2. Impersonation Scams 

Impersonation scams are also on the rise, according to the Singapore Police Force (SPF). The police had issued an advisory in November 2020 that scammers would often use compromised or spoofed social media accounts to impersonate the victims’ friends on WhatsApp, Facebook or Instagram.

Victims were tricked into disclosing their credit card information and One-Time Password (OTP) to scammers.

A total of $2.8 million had been lost to impersonation scams last year.

The police have warned the public to be wary of unexpected offers or requests from social media contacts, especially when the message is related to lucky draws or contests. They have also advised being cautious when messages contain suspicious links.

3. Loan Scams

Scam Alert’s website states that loan scams are usually sent in the form of SMSes or WhatsApp messages offering loans and loan services to random users.

Victims will be asked to transfer money as a deposit before the loan can be given to them. However, scammers will make off with the money and remain uncontactable.

Sometimes, scammers may even ask for personal details, which they will use to threaten or harass the victims for payment.

Scam Alert recommends that the public ignore their messages and that they should block and report the number on their messaging platform. Should you find yourself scammed, you should seek financial help from legitimate financial institutes registered with the Registry of Moneylenders.


4. Banking-Related Phishing Scams

According to CNA, the number of banking-related phishing scams rose from 80 in 2019 to 1,342 in 2020—that’s more than a 1,500% increase.

Many residents have been getting calls from what seems to be bank staff or government officials.

These scams usually call or message you to ask for personal details, internet banking details and One-Time Passwords (OTP). Victims’ bank accounts or ATM cards are then locked, and money is extorted.

The police had warned to never disclose any personal information or OTPs to anyone. Government officials and bank staff will also never use phone apps such as IMO, Viber or WhatsApp to call you.

Local numbers should not have the prefix “+65” when they call you.


5. Whatsapp Takeover Scam

With the new privacy policy on WhatsApp, many of us are worried about what this means for our personal data. But there’s another danger lurking around the corner.

Recently, a WhatsApp takeover scam has been spreading rampantly, sending malicious links that seem to come from your contacts. This is the result of disclosing your WhatsApp 6-digit code to others, which allows them to take over your account.

The police had issued an advisory on 7 March about recent banking-related phishing cases involving WhatsApp accounts that had been compromised.

The police advised people to stay vigilant by not sharing their WhatsApp account verification codes, personal information, banking details and OTPs with anyone.

To learn more about how you can protect yourself, click here.

4. Non-Banking Related Phishing Scams

The police have warned that phishing scams involving companies other than banks have been on the rise. There is a 1,214% increase in the number of such scams from 2019 to 2020.


One such example was the Singtel phishing scam.

Earlier in February, $62,000 were lost to scammers using fake emails from Singtel. According to The Straits Times, the victims received emails that claimed that they had won cash prizes or were eligible to receive cashback or gifts.

The URL included in the email directed them to a fake Singtel webpage, where they had disclosed their bank information and one-time passwords (OTP) to claim their prize.

At least 22 police reports were filed after the victims realised that unauthorised transactions had taken place in their bank account.

The fake URLs include:


7. Investment Scams

A woman claimed that an online friend had asked her to sign up on an online investment site.

The man then ordered her to transfer more than S$74,000 on Aug 5 and Aug 6 to a designated bank account.

Once the transfers went through, however, the woman realised that her account had been blocked. She also failed to access the investment site and was unable to retrieve the amount she had transferred.

Meanwhile, the man became elusive and uncontactable.

While this man has been caught, many other investment scammers are out there. Investment scams are the fifth most common scam reported in 2020, so do beware.

8. Internet Love Scams

This is merely one example of the 822 love scams that happened last year.

Ms Tan first met a man on the social media platform Facebook in mid-2018. He professed to be a 59-year-old American Chinese businessman working for “Keppel”, and allegedly wanted to visit her in Singapore.

But things soon began adopting a darker tone. The man claimed that his money had been confiscated by the CIA and that he and his staff were “trapped at Customs and needed money to get out”.


He also sent her images of “himself” in hospital, pretending to be facing serious medical emergencies.

Over one year, she transferred $80,000 of her savings to him in multiple transactions stretching from $2,000 to $5,000.

The police advised members of the public to be careful when befriending strangers online. They should also be wary when asked to send money to people whom they do not know or have not met in person before.

Time to take your mother’s advice: Don’t anyhow talk to strangers.

9. Credit-For-Love Scams

Similarly, credit-for-love scams involve scammers befriending the victims on social media platforms. They will get the victim to make purchases for them or buy gifts cards in exchange for love.

Scam Alert notes that social media users should be especially wary when online contacts request payments using credits or shopping gift cards. These scammers also often pose as young, attractive people from overseas who offer their favours in exchange for credits.

They might even threaten you with “managers” if you refuse their requests.

Victims should always stay observant online and never give out personal details to an unknown person.

10. Tech Support Scams

Just this year, a senior IT professional was cheated out of $180,000 when he believed that he was helping the government track down hackers. He had fallen victim to a tech support scam.

Initially, Mr KK (not his real name) was contacted by a man who claimed to be a Singtel employee. He was told that his router had been hacked and was instructed to check his router’s network ID and read it out to the caller.

The second scammer then called Mr KK back after another “investigation” was done, and told him to install the monitoring software TeamViewer so that they could trace the hackers.

The third scammer introduced himself as a Cyber Police Agency Officer and requested for Mr KK to sign into his bank account

Through the software, the scammers could access Mr KK’s computer and transferred money out of his bank account. $180,000 was transferred out of his account and into an OCBC one.

They also asked him to transfer money into a Hong Kong HSBC account, which was thankfully stopped by the bank teller when Mr KK went to do so.

Tech support scams are the second-costliest scams in Singapore.

The police advise Singaporeans to log off and shut down their computers to prevent further activities that scammers can carry out when they suspect that they have been scammed.

They should also report the incident to the bank immediately and change their iBanking credentials, as well as remove any unauthorised payees that may have been added to their account.

As shown here clearly, low crime does not mean no crime. Here’s how to avoid getting scammed.

If you would like to prevent scam callers from blowing up your phone (and we all know how annoying that is), take a look at the government’s new ScamShield app available for iOS users.

Feature Image: / fizkes