SINGAPORE: The Singapore Police Force (SPF) alerted the public on Friday (May 7) to a new type of scam where scammers use compromised WhatsApp accounts to solicit donations for the purchase of oxygen concentrator machines to be sent to India.
In such cases, the scammers would communicate with the victims using compromised WhatsApp accounts belonging to the victims' friends, said SPF in a news release.
They would claim to be raising funds to purchase oxygen concentrator machines for donation to India, which is currently facing a surge in COVID-19 infections.
Scammers would request for the victims to assist with the purchase or to donate to patients in India who are critically ill and in need of life-saving oxygen.
"The scammers would emphasise the urgency of the issue and provide the victims with a bank account number for fund transfer, claiming that the bank account belonged to a supplier," said the police.
"The victims would only realise that they had been scammed when the scammer became uncontactable or when they were informed by their friends that their WhatsApp account had been hacked."
In screenshots of a WhatsApp conversation provided by SPF, a scammer told a victim: "I am ordering 20 pieces for charity. To be sent to India."
The scammer then claimed that their credit card was "maxed out" and there was "a remaining amount of $3,750" to be paid to the supplier.
"Could you help me wire it to the supplier? Will wire it back to you on Monday morning. As I have already committed to purchasing. Can't back out now," the scammer added.
READ: India's COVID-19 oxygen crisis: Why is there a deadly crunch?
The victim then made the transfer as requested by the scammer.
But when the scammer was contacted twice on Monday and Tuesday, there was no answer.
The police advised members of the public to beware of unusual requests received over WhatsApp, even if sent by their WhatsApp contacts.
"Verify whether the request is legitimate by checking with your family and friends offline" and "never send money to people whom you do not know or have not met in person before", said SPF.
Any unauthorised transaction made to their bank account should be reported immediately, it added.