Police warn of new govt impersonation scam that allows fraudsters to access victims’ bank accounts

When scammers gain remote access to the victims’ mobile devices, they will proceed to perform unauthorised fund transfers from the victims’ bank accounts. - SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): A new type of government impersonation scam has emerged, involving the download of a remote access application that allows victims’ Internet banking account to be accessed, the police warned.

In an advisory on Thursday (Sept 28), they said victims will first receive unsolicited calls from a person pretending to be a bank officer.

The fake officer will claim the victims’ credit cards have outstanding charges linked to criminal or money laundering activities.

The call will then be transferred to a second scammer, impersonating a Chinese official, who informs the victims that they are under investigation for these illegal activities.

Communication between the second scammer and the victim may move to messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram.

The scammer then instructs the victims to download a remote access app like AirDroid, supposedly to assist in the Chinese police investigations.

Subsequently, victims will be instructed to log in to their Internet banking accounts using the remote access app and are told not to touch or place their mobile devices face down while the “investigations” are being conducted.

When the scammers gain remote access to the victims’ mobile devices, they will proceed to perform unauthorised fund transfers from the victims’ bank accounts.

From January to June, 22,339 scam cases were reported, a 64.5 per cent increase from the 13,576 cases during the same period in 2022.

The total amount victims lost in the first half of 2023 dropped to $334.5 million, from $342.1 million during the same period in 2022.

Government official impersonation scams were the ninth-most common scam in the first half of 2023, with 369 reports made, up from 320 in the same period in 2022. It was also the scam with the highest average loss at about $116,000 per victim.

The police have advised the public to adopt precautionary measures such as adding the ScamShield App and enabling two-factor authentication for their bank accounts.

The public should check for scam signs with official sources and never install software from unverified sources.

They are encouraged to inform the authorities, family and friends about scams, and not act impulsively when pressured by callers.

Those with information relating to such crimes or have doubts can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness

For more information on scams, visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Helpline on 1800-722-6688.

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Singapore , scam , bank , accounts


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