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Fake buyer phishing scam sees at least 419 victims losing over $1.8 million since January; 38 being investigated

Scammers pose as "buyers" on online platforms, tricking victims into revealing sensitive info such as internet banking or credit card details

Since January, S$1.8 million lost to fake buyer phishing scams, affecting at least 419 victims, according to the police.
Since January, S$1.8 million lost to fake buyer phishing scams, affecting at least 419 victims, according to the police. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Since January, at least S$1.8 million has been lost to fake buyer phishing scams, with at least 419 individuals falling victim to these schemes, said the police on Wednesday (21 Feb).

These scams typically involve criminals posing as legitimate "buyers" on online platforms such as Facebook and Carousell, tricking victims into revealing sensitive information such as internet banking or credit card details.

Currently, authorities are investigating 38 individuals suspected of participating in these activities. The 29 men and nine women, aged between 17 and 68, were rounded up during a recent week-long operation to combat scams.

Preliminary investigations found that most of the individuals played a role in facilitating the scams by either opening new bank accounts, selling these accounts to scammers for up to S$1,500 each, or relinquishing their Singpass credentials for as much as S$1,000 per set.

However, these individuals often fail to receive the promised compensation from the scammers. Some had unknowingly disclosed their banking or Singpass credentials under the guise of fake investment schemes, job offers, or loan opportunities, expecting to earn returns.

One individual was also found to have assisted in receiving and transferring money on behalf of the scammers.

How do fake buyer phishing scams operate?

Fake buyer phishing scams typically involve scammers pretending to be interested buyers on platforms like Carousell or Facebook. They start by showing interest in items listed by victims. After agreeing to a sale, victims receive a malicious URL or QR code via email, in-app messages, or WhatsApp, supposedly for payment.

However, clicking on the link or scanning the code redirects victims to a spoofed website, prompting them to enter sensitive details like internet banking logins, credit card information, or one-time password (OTP).

Victims realise they have been scammed when unauthorised transactions occur in their accounts.

"Do not click on dubious URL links, and always verify the authenticity of URL links. If in doubt, always verify the authenticity of the information with the e-commerce platform directly," the police said.

The publich should call the police hotline at 1800-2550000 or submit online, should they have any information relating to such crimes or if they are in doubt. For more information on scams, the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800-7226688.

Scammers on platforms like Carousell and Facebook pretend to be interested buyers, tricking victims into revealing sensitive information through malicious links or QR codes.
Scammers on platforms like Carousell and Facebook pretend to be interested buyers, tricking victims into revealing sensitive information through malicious links or QR codes.(PHOTO:Getty Images and Yahoo Southeast Asia)

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