The Police would like to remind members of the public about a persistent trend observed in relation to the fake friend scam variant, which involves scammers contacting victims through text messages (e.g. via WhatsApp) or phone/WhatsApp calls, pretending to be someone they know, and thereafter asking for financial assistance. Since January 2023, at least 4,800 victims have fallen prey, with total losses amounting to at least $15.7million.
In these cases, victims would receive phone/WhatsApp calls from unknown numbers (with or without the “+65” prefix). In some cases, victims would receive text messages instead of phone/WhatsApp calls. The scammer would claim to be a friend or acquaintance and asked the victims to guess his or her real identity. In response, the victims would then provide the name of a friend whom they believed the caller could be. The scammer would then assume the identity of the said friend and ask the victims to update their contact details.
The scammer would subsequently contact the victims to ask for a loan and would claim that he or she is unable to perform a banking transaction or is experiencing financial difficulties. Victims would then be provided with a local bank account to transfer the money. Victims would only discover that they had been scammed after contacting their actual friends or acquaintances whom the scammers had impersonated, or when their loan was not returned as promised.
The Police would like to advise members of the public to adopt the following precautionary measures:
- ADD - ScamShield App and set security features (e.g., enable two-factor (2FA) or multifactor authentication for banks, social media, Singpass accounts; set transaction limits on internet banking transactions, including PayNow).
- CHECK - for scam signs with official sources (e.g. ScamShield WhatsApp bot @ https://go.gov.sg/scamshield-bot, call the Anti-Scam Helpline on 1800-722-6688, or visit www.scamalert.sg). Verify whether the request is legitimate by checking with your family, friends and acquaintances through alternative means such as physical meet-ups, video calls or email other than using the new contact details on your phone.
- TELL - authorities, family, and friends about scams. Beware of unusual requests from someone purporting to be someone you know via text messages or phone/WhatsApp calls. Report the number to WhatsApp to initiate in-app blocking.
If you have any information relating to such crimes 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. All information will be kept strictly confidential. If you require urgent Police assistance, please dial ‘999’.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800-722-6688. Fighting scams is a community effort. Together, we can ACT Against Scams to safeguard our community!
Examples - Conversation between a scammer and victim on WhatsApp ▼
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
30 August 2023 @ 6:10 PM