S$2.7 million lost to scammers pretending to be friends since start of year

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SINGAPORE: The police on Thursday (May 12) warned the public about a resurgence of scams involving scammers pretending to be friends and asking for financial help.

At least 587 victims have been cheated of more than S$2.7 million in total since January 2022, the police said in a news release.

In May alone, at least 43 people have been duped, losing more than S$177,000 in total to these scams.

Victims of these scams would receive phone calls from unknown numbers with the "+" prefix, said the police.

When answered, the caller would not identify themselves and instead ask victims to guess the identity of the caller with questions such as “Guess who I am?” or “You can’t remember me?”

“Thinking that they were acquainted, the victim would answer with the name of a friend who they thought most resembled the caller’s voice,” police said.

“The caller would then assume the identity of the said friend and would claim to have lost their mobile phone or changed their contact number.”

They would then ask the victims to update their number in their contact list and call a few days later to ask for loans to help them with their financial difficulties or troubles with the law.

“Victims would be provided with local bank account numbers or phone numbers to transfer money to,” said the police. “Victims would only discover that they have been scammed after contacting their actual friends whom the scammers had impersonated.”

The police advised members of the public to beware of calls with the “+” prefix, especially if they are not expecting an international call, as well as unusual requests received from phone calls or messages, even if they appear to be from family or friends.

They are also reminded to verify whether the request is legitimate by checking with family or friends through alternative means, such as physical meetups or using previously established contact details.

Authorities also urged the public to inform the police if they have any information related to crime.

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