The Police have observed a resurgence of a particular scam variant that involves scammers listing fake property listings on websites and contacting victims through WhatsApp chats, pretending to be property agents. Thereafter, they would ask the victims for deposits to secure an appointment for viewing of the property. Since January 2022, at least 144 victims have fallen prey to such scams, with losses amounting to at least $190,000.
In these cases, the victims are typically led to a WhatsApp chat from unknown numbers with the “+65” prefix after clicking on a link on the advertisement. Using spoofed numbers to liaise with the victims, these scammers would use photos, names and licence numbers of legitimate property agents that can be found on rental websites to deceive victims into believing that they are legitimate property agents. Victims who were interested to view the property as advertised, would be asked to make refundable deposits to secure an appointment, and be provided with bank account numbers or phone numbers to transfer the money. Victims would only discover that they had been scammed after the scammers ceased contact with them.
The Police would like to advise members of the public to adopt the following precautionary measures:
- Beware of unknown numbers with the “+65” prefix, especially if you are using WhatsApp chats;
- Beware of property listings on alternative platforms. Verify the legitimacy of a listing by ensuring that the contact number matches the one on the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA)’s website, where details on agencies are listed;
- Property agents are not authorised to handle cash transactions. Therefore, no payments should be made before a house viewing;
- Do not transfer money to unknown persons.
If you have information related to such crimes, 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. Anyone with information on such scams may call the Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000 or submit information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
21 March 2022 @ 9:40 AM