SINGAPORE: The police have observed a new variant of loan scams that involved fake letters or emails from banks or government agencies, requiring that victims pay an administrative fee before receiving their loan.
At least 20 reports were received between January and April this year, with losses amounting to more than S$200,000, the authorities said in a news release on Wednesday (May 26).
In these cases, victims would receive unsolicited text messages or come across websites or advertisements offering loans.
VIctims who replied with the intention to take up a loan would be redirected to WhatsApp to communicate their loan application. Scammers would then request for the victims' personal particulars so the loan application could be processed.
Subsequently, the scammers would inform the victims that the loan had been approved before asking them to make payments of varying amounts as collateral, processing or transfer fees.
According to police, the scammers would present fake letters or emails they said were from banks or government agencies, such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore or the State Courts, which could indicate that the payments were required under specific regulations before the loan could be disbursed.
Victims would only realise they had been scammed when they did not receive the loan, police added.
The authorities reminded the public that licensed moneylenders are not allowed to solicit for loans via text messages, phone calls or social media platforms.
These moneylenders are also required to meet the borrower in person at the approved place of business to conduct physical face-to-face verification of identity before granting any loan. Loan transactions are not allowed to be performed fully online.
Licensed moneylenders will also not ask an applicant to make payments for the secure disbursement of the loan, including GST, "admin fees" and "processing fees". Processing fees or tax payments to a government agency are similarly not required.
The business address of each licensed moneylender is published on the Law Ministry's website.