“Why do the con artists succeed time and again? It is because they know they can exploit the ignorance, vulnerability or very often, the greed of their victims. Con artists often succeed because people hear the promise of easy money and they throw caution to the winds. They do not ask themselves questions, let alone do due diligence on the offer.”
Mr Tan Siong Thye, Director of Commercial Affairs Department, 2004
A list of Scams to look out for
Look out for these common techniques of con artistes
1) Tempting you with Big Money
2) Putting you at ease with their friendly tone and generous offer
3) Having believable answers read for your tough questions
4) Expertly using your emotions against you
5) Well crafted and researched telephone scripts which are often traded among criminals
6) Professional marketing materials
7) Impersonating legitimate businesses and charities
The List of Shame:
1) ‘Apple Scam’
The scam involves two or more culprits acting in unison. The victim would be told that a misfortune would befall his loved ones but this could be prevented with a ritual. He would then be asked to put cash or jewellery in a plastic bag for the ritual and would be told to open the plastic bag a few days later.
2) Bucket Shop
Be aware of unscrupulous firms that used misleading job advertisements to lure job applicants to open trading accounts with the firms. Victims have complained that that they have been asked to deposit monies for trading in commodities such as pork bellies, soya bean or in securities such as share indices after they have turned up a job interviews. Victims are usually shown initial profits but soon start losing money and are asked by the firms to top up their accounts. To cut their losses or even to retrieve their principal sum, people end up investing more money and eventually losing their entire investment.
3) Car Rental Scam
The culprit would propose to rent out vehicles to victims at low prices. Upon paying the rental fees, the victims realize that the vehicles do not belong to the culprit and are not available for rent at all.
4) Church or Charity Donation Scams
The scam involves a culprit from overseas seeking assistance from victims to help him donate his savings to a church or charity to help the needy via e-mail. The culprit promised a small percentage of his wealth for the kind favour rendered by the victims. Victims however are later deceived into parting with monies as administrative fees.
5) Cold Call Supplier Scams
The culprit would call the victim (who is usually the owner of a trading firm) from overseas and offer him the exclusive rights to sell a particular product in Singapore. Shortly after, ‘customers’ who are collaborating with the culprit would call the victim to place huge orders, inducing the victim to ask for goods from the culprit. The victim would be told to deliver monies to the culprit in order to obtain the goods which do not exist at all in the first place. Firms are strongly advised to check the credibility of such ‘cold call’ suppliers and customers before making any financial commitment.
6) Counterfeit Cheques
The victim would receive an unsolicited call informing him that he had won some prizes. He would be asked to provide his personal particulars and pay a small administrative fee. After providing the information, the victim would subsequently receive an envelope containing a magazine and several fake travelers’ cheques that could not be redeemed eventually.
7) Counterfeit Currency Scam
The victim would be tricked to buy/exchange for counterfeit currency notes for purchases of goods and services.
8) Email Job Scam
Victims received emails offering Internet marketing jobs which allow them to earn high salaries from home if they were to purchase products from the culprit’s company. After paying, the victims find out that the claims were false and the culprit could not be contacted.
9) Email Scam Via Impersonation
The culprit would gain access into email accounts and send emails to the account holder’s contacts requesting for remittance of monies to assist the account holder who was stranded, robbed or hospitalized in a foreign country. Personal details about the email account holder such as his NRIC number and names of family members were included in the emails to make the email appeal appear believable.
10) Extortion Scam
The victim would receive threatening calls from unknown subjects purporting that they may harm his loved ones or cause damage to his property should he refuse to send a sum of money to them.
11) Financial Institutions Scam
The culprit would send notifications by email to unsuspecting victims claiming that their transactions were rejected by financial institutions and ask them to resend monies to another account. The public should always confirm with the financial institutions on their transactions before making any transfers.
12) Gold Exchange Scam
The elderly victim would be told that the culprit is a friend of the victim’s family member or relative who could exchange his jewellery for more expensive ones.
13) Impersonation Scam
- Scenario 1
The victim would receive calls alleging that he is involved in a police or Court case. The caller (or a subsequent caller) would claim to be a police officer or Court staff and ask him to make a transfer of money to exonerate his involvement in the police or Court case. There are other variants of the scam such as the impersonation of a government / bank officer to seek bank account information.
- Scenario 2
Tricksters would impersonate law enforcement officials, advising victims to remit or transfer money to designated bank accounts in order to exonerate themselves from alleged crimes. The common allegations include failure to appear in court in relation to one’s involvement in money laundering, or unlicensed money lending cases. Police officers, Court officials, and other government officials do not require any individuals connected to a criminal case to transfer money to any bank accounts.
14) Job Application Scam
The victim would be offered jobs in return for a processing fee. In most cases, the victim would be asked to furnish upfront deposit.
15) Loan Scam
Victims would respond to a website offering loans and be asked to pay an administrative fee. After the victims remitted the fees to foreign accounts, they did not receive the loans or were asked to pay further fees to get the loans. The victims would also be unable to contact the parties involved.
16) Kidnap Hoax
Tricksters would claim that the victim’s loved one had been kidnapped and demand that a ransom be transferred to a specific bank account. These fake threats are usually accompanied by sounds of cries for help in the background. If you receive such calls, remain calm and try to contact your loved ones immediately. Sometimes contacting them fails as your loved ones have been misled into switching off their phones. Do not panic. Seek assistance from the police.
17) Lucky Draw Scam
The victim would receive winning notifications in a lucky draw. He would be asked to provide banking information including internet banking password(s). He may be asked to make up-front payments in order to claim his winnings.
18) Online Purchase Scam
The culprits would post advertisements on online shops posing as sellers of smart phones, tablets or any other gadget. The selling prices of these gadgets are usually much lower than the market prices, thus making them attractive to potential buyers. Victims are then instructed to make advanced payments to purchase the goods. However, the culprits never intended to deliver the goods.
In some cases, culprits would further deceive their victims by claiming that the goods have been delivered wrongly or are stuck at the Customs. Further payments are then asked from the victims. Victims typically accede to the requests for further payment but end up not receiving the goods.
19) Renovation Scam
The victim would be told that the culprit is a renovation contractor. He would be asked for money for renovation purchases that would never arrive.
20) Rental Scam
The scam involves a culprit renting a housing unit (or part of the unit) out to a number of victims concurrently and collecting deposits or advance rental payments from the victims. In some cases, the culprit does not have the authority to rent out the unit.
21) ‘Safe’ Account Scam
The victim would receive calls from unknown persons claiming that the victim’s bank accounts or credit cards had been hacked by third parties. The callers would claim to be police or bank officers and ask the victim to make a transfer of money to “safe” third-party accounts to prevent losing all his money.
22) Pump and Dump Scam
A company may post a glowing press release about its new venture or profits. Fraudsters inside/outside the company may buy stocks of this company. They then “sell” the company via stock brokers or post stories via various channels such as bulletin boards, blogs or forums on the attractiveness of the stock. Often, there is no way to verify the authenticity of these posts. Investors may then rush in to buy the stock, resulting in the stock price of the company being pushed upwards. Fraudsters then sell their stocks at a profit. After they have sold their stocks for a profit, the stories cease and the stock price of the company falls.
23) Scratch and Win Scam
Victim was approached for a Scratch and Win promotion while shopping in Johor Bahru and told he had won prizes of high value. After paying high fees to redeem the prizes, victim found that the prizes were items of low value.
24) Tour Package Scam
The victim would transfer monies to the culprit for purchase of air tickets and/or travel packages. After receiving the monies, the culprit would send a confirmation reservation email to the victim or remain uncontactable. However, no reservation of air tickets and/or travel packages were made for the victim.
25) Welfare Assistance Scam
The victim would be told that the culprit is a government officer who could help to secure welfare benefits that are expiring soon. He would be asked to make a transfer of money.
(*Materials adapted from Commercial Affairs Department, Singapore)
We hope you share our Zhong Kui 鍾馗 Scam / Con Expose Series Postings as far and wide as you can to warn your loved ones and the general public! It has been enjoyable coming up with this series and we hope we have made a positive difference.
Our Best, Always!
Empower Advisory Team
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