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Spike in people scammed by impersonators online

The number of cases of people scammed by impersonators on social media has jumped by more than nine times in the past three years, with many victims – six in 10 – aged in their 20s to 40s.The number of cases rose from 71 in 2017 to 672 cases in the first 11 months of 2019.

SINGAPORE: The number of cases of people scammed by impersonators on social media has jumped by more than nine times in the past three years, with many victims – six in 10 – aged in their 20s to 40s.The number of cases rose from 71 in 2017 to 672 cases in the first 11 months of 2019.

Furthermore, the amount cheated ballooned by nearly 43 times, from at least S$168,000 (RM510,560) to about S$7.2mil (RM21.8mil) over the same period.

The scammers in these cases often use compromised or spoofed social media accounts to pretend to be a victim’s family member or friend to trick victims.

The trend of youth being scammed by impersonators also bears out in findings for other scams which Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam revealed in a written parliamentary reply on Monday.China officials impersonation scam cases more than doubled, from 188 cases in 2017 to 401 cases between January and November last year.

The amount cheated also rose sharply, from at least S$12.8mil (RM38.9mil) to at least S$18.8mil (RM57mil) over the same period.

More younger victims were targeted in 2019 too, with more than half below the age of 30.

Tech support scam cases have also quadrupled, rising from 53 in 2017 to 224 in the first 11 months last year. But the amount cheated rose from at least S$36,000 (RM109,400) to S$12mil (RM36.4mil) over the same period. Both the elderly and young were targeted.

In tech support scams, the crooks usually pretend to be staff from telcommunications companies or law enforcement officers, who deceive victims into installing malicious software onto their computers.

With criminals constantly evolving their methods to fool people, the public needs to remain sceptical and transact only on reliable platforms, Shanmugam said.

“No amount of police resources will be enough. The key to the fight against scams is a discerning public, ” he said. — The Straits Times/ANN

The Star newspaper, Wednesday, 8 January 2020

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