SINGAPORE: A 51-year-old female administrative worker from Singapore, Ms Lee, fell victim to a scam after encountering a Facebook advertisement offering eight Musang King mooncakes for just over $20.
The unfortunate incident resulted in her losing S$76,000, funds she had earmarked for a down payment on a pre-purchased house and renovation expenses.
Ms Lee recounted her harrowing experience to the Chinese media outlet Shin Min Daily News.
She shared that on September 14th, she chanced upon an advertisement on Facebook promoting mooncakes from “Sunshine Bakery (阳光饼屋).”
Intrigued, she explained, “The ad showcased an enticing offer: eight Musang King ice-skinned mooncakes for a mere $29.90, marked down from the original price of $56.90.”
Ms Lee’s motivation stemmed from her son’s desire to purchase mooncakes as client gifts.
She decided, “I thought I would acquire two boxes first, sampling them to make a recommendation.”
Upon clicking the advertisement link, she was directed to a messaging app where the other party requested that she download an app.
This app, they claimed, was essential for providing her delivery address and confirming the order with a nominal $1 payment.
Aware of the prevalence of scams, Ms Lee expressed her concerns, revealing, “I feigned ignorance, telling them I didn’t possess PayNow. ”
“To my surprise, the other party offered to facilitate the payment.”
Despite downloading the app the same day, Ms Lee’s phone exhibited no abnormalities, functioning normally.
Prior to retiring at 10 p.m., she verified her account, finding her funds untouched.
However, her world crumbled the following morning when she was unable to log in.
Rushing to a nearby ATM, she discovered that an alarming S$76,538 had vanished in four transactions.
Ms Lee lamented, “Of this sum, approximately $50,000 was earmarked for the down payment on my pre-purchased HDB flat, with the remainder slated for renovation expenses. Following the transfer, I was left bewildered.”
Throughout this ordeal, Ms Lee asserted that she received neither emails nor text message notifications.
She asserted, “Even though text messages can be tampered with or deleted, the bank should have dispatched email notifications as per my previous preferences, which included both text and email alerts. ”
“I shouldn’t have had to initiate inquiries afterward.”
Taking some responsibility for downloading the app in haste, she maintained that the bank should also bear responsibility for failing to promptly detect these unusual transactions.
The police confirmed their receipt of her report and announced the commencement of an investigation into the matter.
Social media mooncake scams in Singapore drain S$325,000 from 27 victims in a month
On Wednesday (20 Sep), the Singapore Police Force warned that In the first half of this year, more than S$10 million (approximately US$ 7.31 million) vanished from the pockets of over 750 unsuspecting victims, all falling prey to a malware-driven scam.
This insidious scheme not only drained their bank accounts but also wiped their phones clean of data.
A surge in mooncake-related scams has ensnared 27 individuals, as fraudsters deploy a cunning Android mobile app as part of their schemes.
As of September 5th, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) has tallied losses exceeding S$325,000 (equivalent to US$238,740) for the entire month of August.
Unsuspecting victims first encounter enticing mooncake advertisements on Facebook and Instagram.
Believing they were dealing with legitimate sellers, victims initiated contact through social messaging platforms to place orders for the showcased mooncakes. However, they soon found themselves redirected to WhatsApp for payment.
Tragically, these links led individuals to unwittingly download an Android Package Kit (APK) file, an application designed for Android’s operating system, concealing malicious software.
In some instances, victims were coerced into making payments via PayNow or bank transfers to secure their mooncake purchases.
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