While we might be able to notice some online scams right off the bat, others are much harder to detect.
And this particular scam victim can definitely tell you that that’s true.
Recently, a man in Singapore lost $149,000 to a scam in the form of a live chat icon attached to an email.
The email was sent by an email address impersonating the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE). Clicking the live chat button caused the victim, Mike (not his real name), to lose almost all his savings.
Apart from Mike, who works in the education industry, nine other victims also ended up being scammed by the same phishing emails in October this year.
The police also revealed to The Straits Times that collectively, the victims lost at least $225,000 in total to this particular scam.
Here’s what happened and all that you need to know to stay alert when exposed to similar scams in the future.
On 9 October this year, an email saying that CASE had assessed Mike’s dispute case and found that he was “eligible for compensation” was sent to Mike’s email. The email stated, “payment is guaranteed”.
At first, Mike did not think the email was fake, as he had contacted CASE in June 2021 after purchasing a faulty Dell computer.
However, he withdrew his mediation case after Dell offered him a refund that same month, which caused him to be slightly suspicious. Nevertheless, he still opened the email and clicked on the live chat icon as he wanted to know what compensation he would be offered.
After clicking on the icon, he was brought to a fake DBS Bank website that “looked legitimate” before disappearing shortly after.
After the website vanished, he tried reaccessing it and clicked on an “Authorise” button which sent a notification to his mobile phone. The notification stated that “CASE” would handle his case.
After that, he ended up losing “most of his savings”.
He then proceeded to file a police report on the same day after realising that he had been scammed.
Investigations regarding his case are currently ongoing.
After Mike informed the police of his case, CASE confirmed that it is aware of the scam.
However, its Executive Director, Lee Siow Hwee, declined to comment as investigations are ongoing.
CASE also clarified that the emails were sent to 5,095 email addresses after its email server was hacked and that the presence of the phishing emails was reported to CASE staff members starting from 8 October this year.
It also encouraged other victims to reach out and file a police report if they have performed similar transactions and have revealed their banking information.
As for DBS, a spokesperson shared with The Straits Times that its systems are still secure and that various measures are in place to keep the chances of the bank’s intellectual property being abused to a minimum.
The spokesperson also explained that in the CASE data leak, the scammers had used a spoofed website to gain authorised access to victims’ accounts for them to carry out the transactions.
He then highlighted the importance of contacting victims promptly and in a concise fashion after they have been scammed so that they can keep the damage caused to a minimum.
DBS customers can also verify any doubts or transactions through the bank’s official channels.
Negative Impact of the Scam on Mike
Since being scammed, Mike has expressed his financial worries, especially since he is the sole source of income for his elderly parents, who are in their 80s and have medical bills that Mike is responsible for.
He also revealed that his salary is not high and hopes to receive his money back.
After the scam, he also approached the Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre (FIRDEC) for assistance, as FIRDEC can aid individuals in resolving their consumer financial disputes.
Rise in Scams in Singapore
Last month, it was revealed that almost one-third of the claims filed between 1 July 2021 and 30 June this year that FIRDEC handled were cases related to fraud and scams.
Earlier this year, Singapore Police Force reported that in the first half of this year, there were 14,349 scam cases reported, almost double the 7,746 cases reported in the first half of 2021. Scams were also the “main driver of crime” in the first half of the year.
The top ten scam types, which include scams such as job scams, phishing scams, e-commerce scams, investment scams and more, ended up scamming individuals a total of $227.8 million in the first half of this year, a sharp increase from the $142.5 million from the same period in 2021.
The most significant sum of money cheated in a single case from January to June this year was $12 million, which took place during an investment scam.
Those affected by scams can report their scammers by filling up this Report a Scam form set up by the government or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688 on Mondays to Fridays, 9 am to 5 pm (excluding public holidays).
Featured Image: Song_about_summer / Shutterstock.com + CASE