The Police have observed a new variant of loan scam where scammers would provide victims with fake letters or emails purportedly from banks or government agencies, which would indicate that an administrative fee was required before the loan could be issued. Between January and April 2021, at least 20 reports were received with losses amounting to more than S$200,000.
In these cases, victims would receive unsolicited text messages or come across websites or advertisements offering loans. Victims who have replied with the intention to take up loans would then be redirected to communicate on WhatsApp for the loan application, during which the scammers would request victims’ personal particulars to process the loan application. Subsequently, the scammers would inform the victims that the loan had been approved and ask them to make payments of varying amounts for collateral fees, processing fee or transfer fees. The scammers would then provide fake letters or emails purportedly from banks or government agencies such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore or the State Courts. These letters could also indicate that the processing fee or tax payment would be required under specific regulations before the loan could be disbursed. Victims only realised that they had been scammed when they did not receive the loan.
Members of the public are reminded of the following:
- Licensed moneylenders are not allowed to solicit for loans via text messages, phone calls or social media platforms;
- Licensed moneylenders are required to meet the borrower in person at the approved place of business to conduct physical face-to-face verification of his identity before granting any loan. A loan transaction performed fully online is not allowed. The business address of each licensed moneylender is published on the Ministry of Law’s Registry of Moneylenders website at https://rom.mlaw.gov.sg/information-for-borrowers/list-of-licensed-moneylenders-in-singapore/.; and
- Licensed moneylenders will not ask a loan applicant to make any payment before the disbursement of a loan, or to secure the disbursement of a loan. This includes GST, “admin fee”, “processing fee”, or any other fee. Any administrative fee that is charged by licensed moneylenders after a loan has been granted will be deducted from the loan principal that is disbursed to the borrower.
- Licensed moneylenders will not require a processing fee or tax payment to be made to any government agency before a loan can be disbursed to the borrower.
Members of the public are advised to take the following precautions with regard to such scams:
- Ignore such advertisements and do not reply to these messages. Instead, block or report the number as spam on the ScamShield mobile application, WhatsApp or through other third-party applications; and
- Do not provide your personal information such as NRIC, SingPass or bank account details to anyone.
If you have information related to such scams or if you are in doubt, please call the Police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. Please dial ‘999’ if you require urgent Police assistance.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688. Join the ‘Spot the Signs. Stop the Crimes.’ campaign at www.scamalert.sg/fight by signing up as an advocate to receive up-to-date messages and share them with your family and friends. Together, we can help stop scams and prevent our loved ones from becoming the next victim.
Sample of fake letter purportedly from the banks
Sample of fake letter purportedly from government agencies
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
26 May 2021 @ 10:00 AM