We Now Have Another ‘Outbreak’ On Our Hands: Social Media Impersonation Scams

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The cyber-world is filled with interesting stuff.

From cat rescue operations to the long queues forming outside ChaTruMue, our little red dot is buzzing with activities to keep online netizens entertained daily.

Most recently, the online community is discussing an issue that’s rather worrying, ie social media impersonation scams.

Based on the mid-year crime statistics from January to June 2020 from the Singapore Police Force (SPF), the number of social media impersonation scams spiked from 83 cases from January to June 2019, to 1,175 cases in the first half of 2020.

The amount of kaching cheated due to these scams in the first half of 2020?

SGD2.7million, up from SGD726,000 of the same period in 2019.

By the way, just for reference, Singapore saw a $1.2 million loss in Facebook impersonation scams from Jan to Sep 2019.

Image: Giphy

Other than social media impersonation scams, e-commerce, loan and bank-related phishing scams are the top four scams of concern.

Image: Singapore Police Force

All top four scams saw an increase during the first half of 2020.

How are social media impersonation scams carried out?

The scammers will usually impersonate themselves to be either one of the victim’s family members or friends. They will then create a fake Facebook or Instagram account.

They will reach out to the victims thereafter, asking for their phone numbers or credit card information.

The reason for this request? To participate in fake online contests or promotions.

Not knowing that the accounts are fake, victims were tricked into sending over their bank/credit card details.

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Or, they were being told to send over a One-Time Passwords (OTP) to the imposters.

The social media platforms used by scammers to conduct crimes are Instagram and Facebook, with 578 cases and 575 cases reported respectively.

Now, before you think that this only happens to people who are less IT-savvy, a business owner who knows her way around technology was also taken in.

Spike in cases due to people staying home more often

Based on SPF’s mid-year crime statistics 2020 report, the significant increase in such scams is due to the fact that Singaporeans stayed home more often due to the global pandemic.

A 34YO "old-virgin" S'porean was desperately looking for a boyfriend and surprisingly, she really found one online. But the intentions of the man will make you cry. Prepare tissue paper to watch this video based on real events:

As the frequency for online transactions increases, there’s a higher chance for social media impersonation scams to happen.

Spot the Signs. Stop the Crimes campaign

To increase awareness about such scams, a public education campaign was launched on 27 Aug 2020.


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In conjunction with SPF and the National Crime Prevention Council, the 6th edition of the anti-scam campaign with a new tagline, ‘Spot the Signs. Stop the Crimes’ will run till March 2021.

Image: Facebook (National Crime Prevention Council Singapore)

To bring across this serious message in a light-hearted manner, the National Crime Prevention Council collaborated with SGAG, to create a video to educate the general public on some tell-tale signs of online scams.

With most of us still working from home, it’ll be good to get some tips on how to prevent such scams from happening to yourself and those around you.

If you’re keen to find out more about this campaign, do visit the site at https://www.scamalert.sg/spotthesigns/


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Meanwhile, if you’re not working from home, it might be a good idea to start bringing your umbrella out.