SINGAPORE: Since January this year, at least 280 people have lost more than S$1.2 million in total to scammers pretending to be the friends of victims and asking for money over the phone, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said on Friday (Mar 11).
In a news release, the police said they had seen a resurgence of such phishing scams, where victims receive phone calls from unknown numbers with the “+” prefix.
The callers would not identify themselves and instead ask questions such as “Guess who am I?” or “You can’t remember me?” in an attempt to mislead the victims.
"Thinking that they were acquainted, the victim would answer with the name of a friend who they felt sounded similar to the caller," said the police.
"The caller would then assume the identity of the said friend, and claim to have lost their mobile phone or changed their contact number, to ask the victims to update their number in their contact list."
These scammers would then call the victims after a few days and ask for loans due to financial difficulties or trouble with the law, said the police, adding that these victims would be given bank account numbers or phone numbers to transfer money to.
Victims would only discover the scam after contacting their actual friends, the police added.
The police advised members of the public to be cautious of calls with the “+” prefix, especially if they are not expecting an international call, and to beware of unusual requests received from phone calls or messages, even if they appear to be from family or friends.
"Verify whether the request is legitimate by checking with your family and friends through alternative means such as physical meet-ups or using previously established contact details," said the SPF.