$6.8m lost to scams involving chat groups since New Year, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

$6.8m lost to scams involving chat groups since New Year

At least 461 victims have lost at least $6.8 million in investment and job scams involving online chat groups since the start of 2024, the police said on Feb 14.

They urge the public to be wary when strangers add them to chat groups or channels on messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp and Telegram, and offer investment or job opportunities.

In the case of investment scams, victims would be added to chat groups or channels by scammers, who will post testimonials from members claiming to have profited from various investment methods.

The victims who contacted the scammers were offered fake investment packages and asked to provide their personal information to set up accounts. They were also instructed to transfer money to specified PayNow numbers, bank accounts or cryptocurrency wallets.

Scammers might also instruct victims to download virtual private network (VPN) applications to access investment websites that are actually fake sites.

VPN is a technology that enables a secure network connection over the Internet.

Before victims could receive returns on investments, the scammers instructed them to transfer increasingly large sums of money for fees incurred.

The victims realised they had been scammed when they were unable to withdraw their earnings even after transferring these fees.

In the case of job scams, victims would be added to chat groups or channels by scammers who promise profitable and easy online jobs.

The scammers might claim to represent companies such as TikTok, online communications companies or marketing companies.

The victims would be given tasks to generate traction on social media. These include following TikTok or Instagram accounts, subscribing to channels or liking videos on YouTube, liking posts on Trip.com or liking songs on Spotify.

They would get a small commission after completing these tasks.

After the victims were convinced they could earn more, they were given more tasks. In some instances, they were given fake employment contracts.

To perform these tasks, they had to open accounts on scam job websites and transfer money to bank accounts or cryptocurrency wallets provided by the scammers.

They realised they had been scammed when their website accounts showed a negative balance, and they were told to pay additional funds to upgrade their accounts, or when they could not withdraw their earnings.

The police urge the public to activate the privacy function on their devices that disallows unknown users from adding them to chat groups on messaging platforms.

Members of the public are also advised to download the ScamShield app on their mobile devices.

They should enable security features such as two-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication for banks and e-wallets, as well as transaction limits for Internet banking transactions.

The public should also inform the authorities, family and friends about scams, as well as report scammers or chat groups to WhatsApp or Telegram.

Those with information relating to such crimes can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or visit police.gov.sg/iwitness

For more information on scams, visit scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Helpline on 1800-722-6688.