SINGAPORE – Since the beginning of November this year, at least 237 individuals have fallen victim to a phishing scam related to fraudulent "WhatsApp Web" pages.
The Straits Times cited a police statement on Monday (13 November) that this has resulted in a total loss of $606,000 by the victims.
Unverified URLs and urgent loan requests
In these instances, scammers gained control of compromised WhatsApp accounts by tricking users into clicking on unverified URLs while searching for the official WhatsApp Web page.
Once control was established, the scammers posed as the original account users, contacted their families or friends from their accounts' contact list, and attempted to solicit loans.
ST reported that the scammers typically created urgency by claiming an immediate need for funds, citing reasons such as personal purchases, aiding a distressed friend or relative, or covering medical emergencies.
The scammers often asserted that their bank accounts were restricted due to exceeding transfer limits. Occasionally, they also requested a screenshot of the purported transfer with the intention of asking for additional funds later.
Subsequently, the targeted contacts were urged to transfer money to an unfamiliar bank account or PayNow number, supposedly belonging to the original account users.
Police urge vigilance and security measures
The police highlighted that victims realised they had been scammed only after contacting or being contacted by their family or friends, who claimed not to have received any funds.
To prevent such incidents, the police advised the public to take security measures, including enabling WhatsApp's two-step verification feature, ensuring the use of the official WhatsApp Web website, and exercising caution regarding unusual requests on the messaging platform.
Additionally, individuals were advised not to share WhatsApp account verification codes, to check linked devices on WhatsApp regularly, and to stay informed about potential scams by visiting www.scamalert.sg or contacting the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800-7226688.
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