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Singapore Police warn of S$4 suitcase phishing scam impersonating SIA

The police issued a warning about a phishing scam via Facebook ads using Singapore Airlines’ logo.

Fraudsters offered suitcases at S$4, posing as ‘Singapore Airlines Travel.’ SIA cautioned customers to use only their official website and app for transactions.

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SINGAPORE: On Thursday ( 7 December), the police issued a cautionary alert regarding a recent phishing scam circulating through Facebook ads.

The scam employed the Singapore Airlines (SIA) logo as its profile picture and offered travel suitcases at an incredibly low price of S$4, masquerading as “Singapore Airlines Travel.”

Since November, this scheme has ensnared 14 individuals, resulting in collective losses of at least S$799 (approximately US$597).

According to the police, Victims of this scam are lured in by the advertised luggage offer on Facebook.

Upon clicking, they are redirected to a deceptive phishing website, unknowingly divulging personal information and payment card details.

Subsequently, scammers exploit this credit card information. Victims typically realize the fraudulent nature of the scheme only upon noticing unauthorized transactions on their card statements.

To prevent falling victim to such scams, the police strongly recommend taking preemptive measures.

These include installing the ScamShield app to enable two-factor authentication for bank transactions or contacting the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800-722-6688.

Additionally, individuals can utilize the ScamShield WhatsApp bot or visit www.scamalert.sg to identify potential scams.

The police further advise the public to exercise caution and watch for telltale signs of a phishing website.

They suggest verifying the authenticity of offers, especially if they seem unusually attractive, by cross-checking information on the company’s official website.

When in doubt, individuals are urged to refrain from sharing personal information and payment card details.

In response to this issue, Singapore Airlines has also issued a warning on its official Facebook page.

They advise their customers to exclusively utilize the verified SIA website and mobile app for any transactions related to the airline.

Several individuals took to the comment section of The Straits Times’ Facebook page, asserting that the social media giant bears a degree of responsibility for the proliferation of phishing scams on its platform.

Previous case of victim falling prey to online scam after clicking suspicious Facebook link

In early November, a Singaporean woman fell victim to an online scam after clicking a Facebook link.

The scammer siphoned S$80,000 (approximately US$58,797) from her account,  leaving her with a mere 24 cents.

To compound matters, the scammer possibly infiltrated her phone, deftly disabling transfer notifications.

The victim, Ms Chen, first came across a Facebook post promoting the recycling of used clothes, After contacting the recycling company, an ‘administrator’ later called to inform her about the collection details and sent Ms Chen a link to choose a time slot for collection.

Ms Chen initially found the website to appear “legitimate” with no apparent issues. The victim said she exercised caution and only engaged with the website to schedule a time for the collection of her old items, refraining from providing any personal information.

However, the following day, she received a call from POSB Bank, informing her about a new DBS bank account opened under her name, with over S$80,000 transferred to another account.

Upon seeking assistance from the POSB branch, she was disheartened to allegedly hear that the incident was attributed to her own carelessness.

Despite her efforts, they expressed doubts about the potential difficulty in recovering the amount but offered a limited advance of S$500.

Elderly man loses US$51,000 life savings due to Facebook Peking Duck ad scam

In August, 74-year-old Mr Loh lost S$70,000 in an online scam while trying to order Peking Duck.

He came across a Facebook advertisement offering a 1.5kg Peking duck priced at S$23.80, along with an additional S$5 for delivery.

The seller directed him via voice messages to download an app named “Grab & Go”. Attracted by the scammer’s offer, the victim proceeded to deposit S$5 through the “Grab & Go” app.

However, his phone encountered malfunctions shortly after, and he later discovered from the bank that scammers had raised Mr. Loh’s transaction limit from its original S$3,000.

Subsequently, the scammers were able to transfer approximately S$59,000 from Mr. Loh’s DBS current account and POSB savings account. Additionally, they made a credit advance of S$11,000 on his DBS credit card.

This strategy had previously surfaced as an emerging form of Android malware scam employed by scammers.

Victims will be instructed to install a third-party application and submit a $5 deposit via PayNow for their requested order or services.

Once the app is installed, it can capture the victim’s internet banking credentials using its key-logging functionality.

At that point, the scammers will then gain unauthorized access to the victims’ mobile banking apps, enabling them to carry out unauthorized transactions.

To cover their tracks, they will perform factory resets on the devices, effectively erasing all data.

This not only depletes the victims’ bank accounts but also wipes their phones clean.

Scam-related losses in Singapore hit S$2 billion over 3-year period

Between January 2020 and June 2023, victims in Singapore suffered approximately S$2 billion in losses due to scams.

Globally, scammers were estimated to have stolen around US$1.02 trillion from August 2022 to August 2023, as reported by a study conducted by the Global Anti-Scam Alliance and ScamAdviser, a data service provider.

On 25 October, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and IMDA proposed the Shared Responsibility Framework to address losses resulting from scams and allocate responsibility among financial institutions, telcos, and consumers.

The framework mandates that financial institutions and telcos failing in their responsibilities will be required to reimburse victims of specific phishing scams.

Negligence, such as banks’ failure to send outgoing transaction alerts or telcos’ lack of implementation of scam filters for SMSes, are areas outlined within this framework.

Separately, The Central Provident Fund (CPF) announced on Monday a default online withdrawal limit of S$2,000 (approximately US$1,490) per day will be enforced for all CPF members aged 55 and above in Singapore.

This measure aims to enhance the protection of Central Provident Fund (CPF) members against potential scams.

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