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Singapore’s Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre report finds significant rise in scams online

Recently, the Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre (HTBSC) in Singapore shared the findings from its National Prevalence Survey of Scams. Conducted online between August and September 2020, the survey garnered responses from 4,043 Singaporean citizens and Permanent Residents, which helped HTBSC to learn more about the attitudes and behaviours that make us more vulnerable to scams.

The online survey, conducted between last August and September, polled 4,043 people comprising Singapore citizens and permanent residents. They answered questions on their scam experiences, online practices and perception of scam prevention initiatives.

Rise in online scams in Singapore

The survey found that many Singapore citizens have poor cyber hygiene practices, such as clicking on pop-up advertisements on websites or opening e-mails from unknown sources.

Over 49% of scam victims wrongly believed that the authorities verify the information by sending them SMS or e-mails with links to click on. 37% of the victims had a false belief that it is common practice to share passwords or OTPs. About 7% of respondents said they fell victim to scams in that year.

According to the Singapore Police Force (SPF), overall crime in 2020 increased by 6.5% due to a rise in scam cases. In particular, online scams saw a significant increase as Singaporeans carried out more online transactions due to the COVID-19 situation. Excluding scams, the total number of reported crimes decreased by 15.3%.

More than S$200 million was lost to scammers last year as more people made transactions online during the pandemic, the police said at their annual crime statistics briefing last week.

Particularly for e-commerce scams, the total amount cheated increased to $6.9 million last year, from $2.3 million in 2019.

Carousell had the highest portion of e-commerce scams, with 1,319 cases – 39.3% of all reported e-commerce scams. Some of the common scam transactions involved the sales of electronic gadgets and Covid-19-related items.

The Recent Singtel Online Scam

Just earlier this week. Scammers using fake e-mails claiming to be from Singtel stole $62,000.

The victims received e-mails claiming to be from Singtel telling them they had won a prize. Those who clicked on the URL link were directed to a fake Singtel webpage which asked for their bank information and one-time passwords in order to claim their winnings.

Earlier this week, 22 police reports were logged when the victims realised that they had been scammed after noticing unauthorised transactions in their bank accounts.

The Singapore Police Force is recommending Singaporeans follow the tips below to safeguard against such scams:

  • Be wary of URL links provided in unsolicited adverts and text messages, especially those related to deals that seem too good to be true
  • Always verify the authenticity of the information with the official website or sources
  • Never disclose your personal or Internet banking details and OTP to anyone
  • Report any fraudulent transaction involving your e-payment accounts to the e-payment service provider immediately
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