Onus on potential victims to spot signs of scams, says NCPC chairman
National Crime Prevention Council chairman says public must remain vigilant
They had not spoken in a couple of years, but when someone claiming to be his secondary school friend from Malaysia asked to follow him on Instagram last month, he did not think twice.
She told him she would help him enter a contest on e-commerce platform Shopee to win a reward, but after John (not his real name), 20, gave her his phone number and three six-digit verification codes relating to his Shopee account, he knew something was amiss.
Realising $1,400 was missing from his bank account, he quickly made a police report and was able to recover the money.
"I was quite suspicious but I didn't think so much because I thought she was my friend," John said. "But when I looked back, I realised she kept asking me about the codes and if I didn't send them, she got frustrated."
These tell-tale signs are the central theme behind a new "Spot the signs. Stop the crimes" anti-scam campaign launched by the police and the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) yesterday.
The campaign, in its sixth edition, will run from now until March next year with a focus on sharing real examples of scams.
The police and NCPC said the campaign aims to highlight the need for the public to stay vigilant, verify information, keep abreast of scam tactics and to share this with loved ones.
NCPC chairman Gerald Singham said: "Many people do not think they will ever become victim of a scam. This false sense of security is dangerous.
"Learning to spot the various signs of scams and taking the necessary precautions to safeguard ourselves are crucial.
"Without this shift in mindset, scammers will continue to take advantage of us."
This comes a day after mid-year crime statistics showed a sharp spike in scams this year.
Almost 8,000 scam cases were reported between January and June, more than double the figure for the same period last year and outstripping the whole of 2018.
Mr Singham told the media that scams have been on law enforcement's radar for some years now and it is frustrating to see scam rates continue to rise.
Scammers need the cooperation of their victims so the new campaign aims to engage the public in order to break this link.
Mr Singham said: "There is no vaccine against scams. The best way to (immunise) ourselves against them is to be vigilant, to be watchful," he said.
"When you're dealing with someone whom you cannot verify... you've got to be sceptical- why is the person asking for my bank details, for my OTP (one-time password), or personal details? The onus is on us - the potential victims. It starts with us. We have to spot the signs."