$488k in CPF money part of $13.3m lost to scammers, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

$488k in CPF money part of $13.3m lost to scammers

At least 120 people lost a collective amount of at least $13.3 million in December after falling prey to scams where fraudsters impersonated government officials.

In a joint statement on Feb 1, the police and Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board said the victims received calls from scammers pretending to be bank officers who wanted to find out more about suspicious transactions the victims had allegedly made.

The calls were transferred to another scammer after the victims denied making such transactions or possessing the bank cards purportedly used in the transactions.

The second fraudster claimed to be a government official, either local or foreign, and accused the victims of participating in criminal activities such as money laundering.

They then instructed the victims to transfer money to specific bank accounts supposedly used by the authorities, or asked for their banking credentials – all under the guise of official-sounding reasons, such as investigations.

The victims only realised the ruse after the scammers became uncontactable or after checking with their banks or the police.

In three cases, which involved CPF withdrawals amounting to about $488,000 in total, the victims were told to transfer money from their CPF accounts to their own bank accounts.

They were then instructed to either transfer the money to other accounts or provide their banking credentials.

The statement said that government officials will never ask over the phone for the transfer of money, banking credentials or CPF-related information,

It added that the CPF Board recently introduced several security measures, including a default daily limit for online CPF withdrawals capped at $2,000, which came into effect on November 30, 2023.

CPF members who wish to increase the default limit will need to use Singpass face verification, with a 12-hour cooling period in place to prevent unauthorised adjustments.

As a nuclear option, they can also disable online withdrawals entirely.

The statement said: “These measures create friction for scammers and help to reduce losses, but ultimately, it is important that members of the public stay alert against the latest scam tactics and avoid falling prey.”

There were at least eight scam cases involving CPF savings between January and June in 2023, with losses amounting to $124,000.

The victims had fallen for malware scams after clicking on social media advertisements for discounted products. They then downloaded third-party apps hat contained malware.

Those who suspect they are victims of scams involving their CPF savings should contact the CPF Board. They should also notify their bank to immediately freeze their bank accounts, reset their Singpass password and set their CPF daily withdrawal limit to $0.