59 victims lose $1.4m to tech support scam, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

59 victims lose $1.4m to tech support scam

This article is more than 12 months old

People who receive pop-up alerts on their computers claiming that the devices have been compromised should avoid giving their bank account or credit card details to those claiming to be “tech support personnel”.

At least 59 victims have fallen prey to this latest scam since January, with total losses amounting to at least $1.4 million, said the police and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) in a joint statement on Friday.

Victims would receive a pop-up alert while using an Internet browser, informing them that their computer has been infected with a virus or spyware. Typically, they would encounter such pop-up alerts on movie or video streaming sites such as dramacool and olevod.com.

Upon clicking the alert, their screens might appear to freeze and may be accompanied by a loud beeping sound.

The pop-up message would also contain a contact number for tech support. The number would usually start with “+65”, to create the impression that it is a valid local number.

After the victims call the number, scammers impersonating tech support personnel would instruct them to download a remote access app, such as Teamviewer, which gives them control of the victims’ devices, said the statement.

The scammers would then direct the victims to log into their Internet banking account where they would provide their one-time password sent by the bank. In some cases, victims may also be asked by the scammers to provide their credit or debit card details over the phone.

By using the remote access app, the scammers would then transfer funds from the victims’ bank accounts, or make fraudulent charges to their credit or debit cards.

In other cases, the victims would be instructed to log in to their Singpass accounts, which the scammers would then attempt to use to create accounts at various cryptocurrency or fintech websites, or remittance services upon gaining access to the Singpass accounts.

The victims would then receive notifications from their Singpass app that their account was used to access such services.

The scammers are known to use these services to facilitate the flow of illicit proceeds.

Members of the public are advised to uninstall any software that was downloaded under the scammer’s instructions, and then turn off the device to limit the illicit activities, said the police and CSA.

Apart from changing their Internet banking credentials and removing any unauthorised payees that may have been added to their bank accounts, victims should also inform their banks and the police of the incident.

The authorities also advised the public to perform a full anti-virus scan of their computer, and delete any malware detected.

People are advised to check their Singpass transaction history for suspicious activity and reset their Singpass password if they suspect that their account has been compromised.

Those who wish to provide information related to scams can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit it at the website www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.

Those who have encountered scammers impersonating CSA officers should also report to CSA at www.csa.gov.sg/singcert/reporting.