US$50,000 lost & broken hearts: People in S'pore share their wildest scam stories

Some of these stories be wildin’.

| Melanie Lim | Sponsored | September 10, 2021, 05:56 PM

Between 2016 and 2020, the number of scam cases reported to the Singapore Police Force (SPF) increased three-fold, from about 5,400 to approximately 16,000 cases.

These statistics were revealed by Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan at the inaugural webinar 'Scaminar! The Fight Against Scams' on August 25, 2021.

In 2020 alone, scams accounted for 42 per cent of all crime cases in Singapore, with total losses amounting to an estimated S$265 million.

Given the rising number of scam cases in Singapore in recent years, we decided to ask our readers to share their wildest scam stories with us, from an incident where they or a loved one have been scammed, to incidents where they have almost gotten scammed.

Here’s what we gathered.

Link scams

One common issue that readers shared about was clicking on links that led to the downloading of malware or sending codes which scammed them of money.

  • “‘SingPost’ emails me about parcel delivery status (100 per cent looks legit), link downloads malware.”

  • “‘DBS bank emailed me and said I’ve successfully transferred money. At the bottom, it stated ‘if authorised, log into digibank via this link.’ Clicked on the link, and the log-in screen was extremely convincing. I almost tried to log in, but decided to use the app instead. I logged in using the app and found out that I didn’t make the transfer at all. It was a good scam though.”

  • “So I was in Primary 5 when my friend who was obviously hacked asked me for my number and I gave it to him. He then gave me codes to send to him and I kept on giving it to him and when my phone bill came, I was scammed of S$200.”

E-commerce scams

Other readers shared about how they paid for items online but either did not receive them, or received something else instead.

  • “Bought a lot of clothes at S$0.50 per piece (sale), next day the website didn’t exist.”
  • “Someone took my S$600 for a pet in an online game that was promised but never given.”
  • “My friend’s mum bought a gaming chair online for S$50 and got a tissue pack instead.”

    Love scams

    A common scam in Singapore, a few readers even shared about how a relative of theirs got conned of their money via a love scam, or how they themselves almost fell prey to a love scam.

    • “In 2019, my uncle told me that a ‘pretty girl’ dm-ed him on Facebook messenger. As he thought that it was normal to chat with strangers online, he chatted with her for around two to three months. Suddenly, that ‘pretty girl’ told my uncle that ‘she’ wanted to come to Singapore to meet him in a month's time, but that ‘she’ had insufficient money to do so and wanted to borrow S$1,500 from him in cash. My uncle wanted to give ‘her’ only S$900 because to him, S$1,500 is quite a large sum of money. However, the ‘girl’ (eventually) convinced him to give ‘her’ S$1,500 instead of S$900. My uncle said that he placed S$1,500 in an envelope and gave it to someone who said that he would give it to the ‘girl’. But after that, my uncle was unsure if he did the right thing or not, so he told his friend about it. That friend checked her account and found out that the "girl" is actually a guy who used filters to make himself look like a girl. My uncle’s friend wanted to make a police report, but my uncle couldn't believe it and insisted on not making a police report as he thought that his friend was jealous of him because he gave S$1,500 to the ‘girl’ and not him. A few days later, my uncle realised that he had indeed been scammed and wanted to make a police report, but unfortunately it was too late - the ‘girl's’ account had been deleted. My uncle didn't want to make a police report without any evidence so in the end, he lost S$1,500.”
    • “I’ve always wanted a pen pal and in mid-July, a Chinese-Canadian man followed me on Instagram and DM-ed me. He was the epitome of ‘高富帅’ (tall, rich and handsome) and we chatted for around three weeks. Initially, I thought that he’d be a good friend and was glad that I could finally have a penpal, because my childhood dream was to have one. This guy was full of praise for me, saying things like “我喜欢会弹钢琴的女孩” (“I like girls who can play the piano”),”你照顾猫儿啊,真有爱心” (“You take care of cats, that’s so thoughtful”) because I volunteer at a cat shelter,”你很漂亮,很可爱” (“You’re so pretty, so cute”), etc. Then suddenly, he said that he was interested in me and asked me to invest in Bitcoin and put a thousand dollars with him. When I rejected him, he unfollowed me on Instagram and told me we should stop contacting each other on Whatsapp. What a jerk.”

    Finance scams

    Finance scams were the most prevalent amongst the responses we received, with the amount of money being scammed from different individuals going up to thousands of dollars.

    • “Friend kena scammed US$50,000 by signing up for a fake crypto trading site.”

    • “Someone from the United States scammed my family business of S$3,000.”

    • “There was this time a person on the phone told me I won S$50,000. They told me they were from the Changi group but I realised it was a scam when they couldn’t pronounce ‘Changi’ properly.”

    Catch Queenpins, an American comedy about two suburban homemakers who become scammers

    As the many stories of our readers have demonstrated, scam cases are extremely common in Singapore, and are only on the rise.

    If you are intrigued by these scam stories and would like to catch one on the big screens, consider watching MM2 Entertainment’s latest movie Queenpins.

    Inspired by a true story, Queenpins is an American comedy about how a bored and frustrated suburban homemaker, Connie (Kristen Bell) and her best pal JoJo (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) turn a hobby into a multi-million dollar counterfeit coupon caper.

    After firing off a letter to the conglomerate behind a box of cereal gone stale and receiving an apology along with dozens of freebies, the duo hatch an illegal coupon club scheme that scams millions from mega-corporations and delivers deals to legions of fellow coupon clippers.

    Meanwhile, a hapless Loss Prevention Officer (Paul Walter Hauser) from the local supermarket chain joins forces with a determined U.S. Postal Inspector (Vince Vaughn) in pursuit of these newly-minted “Queenpins” of pink collar crime.

    Queenpins is now showing at Cathay Cineplexes, Shaw Theatres Lido and WE Cinemas.

    Klook is also running a 9.9 promo with Queenpins movie vouchers on sale at S$9.90. For more information, click here.

    This sponsored article by MM2 Entertainment made this writer want to watch Queenpins.

    Top image via Jefferson Santos on Unsplash