On May. 7, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) alerted the public about scammers using compromised WhatsApp accounts to solicit donations for the supposed purchase of oxygen concentrator machines to be sent to India.
The compromised WhatsApp accounts belong to the victim's family and friends, which are used to trick victims into sending money to unknown bank accounts.
Situation in India
India's medical supplies are running low due to a surge in Covid-19 cases.
In response, several countries including Singapore, Australia, Germany, and Canada have sent humanitarian assistance to support India's fight against the pandemic.
Scammers prey on generosity of victims
SPF provided screenshots of WhatsApp conversations between victim and scammer.
Scammers sent detailed messages on the source of the machines and the time taken for them to ship out.
They also provided a bank account number for fund transfers, claiming that it belonged to a supplier.
Scammers would say they had maxed out their credit cards and asked victims to help out with the remaining money for the donation, promising to pay them back.
This made the matter seem urgent and that it was imperative that victims responded quickly to their request.
Scammers also took advantage of the victim's generosity.
One victim involved even praised the scammer for the charitable gesture in helping the Indians in need during this tough time.
According to screen shots, scammers fooled victims by saying: "People are dying even before receiving medical attention. It is extremely disheartening."
Victims realised they were scammed
The victims only realised that they had been scammed when the WhatsApp contact became unreachable after the transaction was done.
Victims also realised they had fallen prey to a scam after their friends informed them that their WhatsApp account had been hacked.
SPF advises the following crime prevention measures to prevent online scams:
- Beware of unusual requests received over WhatsApp, even if they were sent by your WhatsApp contacts
- Verify whether the request is legitimate by checking with your family and friends offline
- Never send money to people whom you do not know or have not met in person before
- Report any unauthorised transaction made to your bank account immediately
Top image via SPF.