SINGAPORE – At least 1,098 people have fallen prey since January to scams involving fraudsters pretending to be the victims’ friends, with total losses of around $4.5 million.
In a statement on Monday (Aug 29), the police said there has been a persistent trend of scammers contacting victims through phone calls, pretending to be their friends while asking for financial assistance.
Police said the victim would receive phone calls from unknown numbers with the “+” prefix.
When the calls are answered, the caller would not identify themselves and instead mislead victims with questions such as “Guess who am I?” or “You can’t remember me?”.
Thinking they are acquainted, the victims would reply with the name of a friend who they think sound similar to the caller, said the police.
The caller will then assume the identify of the friend while claiming to have lost his mobile phone or changed his contact number.
He will then ask the victim to update his number in the victim’s contact list.
After a few days, the caller would contact the victim and ask for loans due to financial difficulties or troubles with the law.
He would provide bank account numbers or phone numbers to transfer money to.
“Victims would discover that they have been scammed only after contacting their actual friends whom the scammers have impersonated,” said the police.
People are advised to beware of calls with the “+” prefix, especially if they are not expecting an international call.
The police also urged the public to be wary of unusual requests received via phone calls or messages even if they appear to be from family or friends.
The public is also advised to verify the legitimacy of the request by checking with family and friends through alternative means, such as physical meet-ups or using previously established contact details.
Those with information related to such scams are advised to call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit it online at their website.
For more information on scams, people can visit the Scam Alert website or call the anti-scam hotline on 1800-722-6688.