1,098 victims in S'pore lose at least S$4.5 million to scammers calling & pretending to be friends

Watch out.

Ashley Tan | August 29, 2022, 02:21 PM

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A persistent scam variant has emerged, and over a thousand people in Singapore have fallen prey to it this year.

The police are alerting members of the public of this scam, where scammers contact victims via phone calls and pretend to be their friends, before asking for money.

How do the scams work?

Victims typically receive phone calls from unknown numbers with the "+" prefix.

When they answer the call, the callers do not identify themselves.

Instead, they ask the victim to guess who they are through questions such as "Guess who am I?" or "You can’t remember me?".

The victim would then give the name of a friend whom they believe the caller's voice to sound the most similar to.

The caller would then assume the identity of said friend, claiming to have lost their mobile phone or changed their contact number, and will ask the victim to add their number to their contact list.

A few days later, the caller will contact the victim again, this time asking them for a loan due to financial difficulties, or claiming that they've run afoul of the law.

Victims typically give their bank account number or phone numbers to transfer money to the "friend".

They realise they have been scammed after contacting their actual friends the callers had impersonated.

The police shared that since January 2022, at least 1,098 victims have fallen prey to such scams, with at least S$4.5million lost in total.

Things to note

To avoid falling for such scams, the police advises members of the public to follow these precautionary measures:

  • Beware of calls with the "+" prefix, especially if you are not expecting an international call.
  • Beware of unusual requests received from phone calls or messages, even if they appear to be from your family or friends.
  • Verify whether the caller's request is legitimate by checking with your family and friends through alternative means such as physical meet-ups, video calls or email, other than using the contact details on your phone.

For more information on scams, members of the public can visit this website, or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.

Anyone with information on such scams may call the Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000 or submit information online here. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

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