At least $1.2 million lost from travel package scams in Singapore in September

43 victims fell prey to scam ads on Facebook and Instagram, which led to download of apps containing malware

Screenshots of the fraudulent Facebook advertisement (Photos: Singapore Police Force)
Screenshots of the fraudulent Facebook advertisement (Photos: Singapore Police Force)

SINGAPORE - At least $1.2 million was lost from 43 victims who fell prey to travel package advertisement scams on social media in September.

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) said in a news release on Thursday (5 October) that victims would come across advertisements on Facebook or Instagram promoting "cruises, tour packages, concert tours and durian tours".

After they responded to these ads, the victims would be contacted by the "sellers" through WhatsApp. They would subsequently be directed to download an Android Package Kit (APK) file to pay for booking fees. Alternatively, they would be sent links to download the APK file, which contains malware.

Once the file was installed, victims were prompted to grant the app access to certain services. This action effectively granted scammers remote access to the victims' devices, allowing them to steal banking credentials and passwords.

Victims may also be asked to key in their internet banking login details into a fake banking window within the app, or instructed to make PayNow or bank transfers for the booking fees.

They would later uncover unauthorised transactions in their bank accounts.

How to protect from such scams

The police has advised the public to protect themselves from such scams by:

  • Installing the ScamShield app and antivirus apps, and ensuring they are updated regularly with the latest security patches;

  • Disabling "install unknown app" or "unknown sources" in phone settings, and refrain from granting permissions to persistent pop-ups that request access to your device's hardware or data;

  • Checking for scam signs with official sources like the ScamShield Whatsapp bot, the Anti-Scam Helpline (1800-722-6688) or visit;

  • Downloading applications only from official app stores (eg. Google Play Store for Android devices), and to be wary if asked to download unknown apps in order to buy items or services on social media platforms;

  • Reporting suspicious content or advertisements to Facebook and Instagram, and reporting fraudulent transactions to banks immediately;

  • Telling the authorities, and family and friends, about the scams.

For those who have downloaded and installed the app, or suspect that their phone has been infected with the malware, the following steps can be taken:

  1. Turn the phone to flight mode, and check that Wi-Fi is switched off;

  2. Run an anti-virus scan on the phone;

  3. Check your bank, Singpass and Central Provident Fund accounts for any unauthorised transactions, and report it to the bank, relevant authorities, and the police.

Further precautions such as doing a "factory reset" and changing important passwords on your phone can also be done, said the police.

Those who have any information relating to such crimes can call the police hotline (1800-2550000) or submit online through I-Witness.

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Yahoo Singapore Telegram