19 June 2024


Exploring Singapore's Scam Landscape: Illuminating Deception, One Article at a Time

Scam Preys on Pregnant Woman’s Quest for Healthier Meals in Singapore

3 min read

In a heart-wrenching turn of events, a 32-year-old pregnant woman, surnamed Yan, has become the latest victim of an online scam that has emptied her bank account. Yan’s story serves as a stark reminder that even in a tech-savvy city like Singapore, the menace of online scams is ever-present.

Yan’s ordeal began when she stumbled upon a Facebook advertisement for a “tingkat” meal service. These services, a popular choice among Singaporeans, offer freshly prepared meals delivered to your doorstep. The ad dangled a tempting offer – a $5 set meal that included one meat dish and two vegetables, a proposition that piqued the interest of a pregnant woman committed to maintaining a healthy diet.

Eager to sample this promising meal service, Yan reached out to the seller via WhatsApp. The seller responded by providing a link to download an APK file for payment. However, despite several attempts, Yan was unable to download the file onto her mobile phone. Frustrated and losing interest, she requested the seller to cancel her order.

Little did she know that her situation was about to take a dramatic turn. Only two days later, Yan realized she could not withdraw $50 from her bank account. Puzzled by the issue, she immediately contacted her bank, where she received devastating news – over $58,000 had been siphoned from her savings and deposit accounts.

In a state of shock, Yan swiftly filed a police report and was informed that she had likely fallen victim to a malware scam. Recounting the ordeal, Yan mentioned that although she had been unable to successfully download the APK file, her phone had become unusually hot, and she was unable to access her mobile banking app.

Notably, Yan had never disclosed her bank account details, OTP (One-Time Password), or Singpass information to anyone. This incident not only wiped out her savings, leaving her with a mere 94 cents in her bank account, but it also disrupted her plans to return to Malaysia in November for the birth of her child.

In a heartwarming display of support, Yan’s colleagues rallied to help her, contributing funds and offering red packets to assist with her living expenses. Her husband, working in Malaysia, rushed to Singapore upon hearing about the scam.

Singaporean authorities have reported an upsurge in malware scams, and they are advising the public to exercise caution. Individuals are urged not to download suspicious APK files on their devices, as these files may contain dangerous phishing malware.

Android users are known to be the main targets due to the open nature of the Android operating system (OS) and its large market share of 65.9% in Singapore. This allows malicious applications to be developed and deployed freely at ease by hackers who are looking to abuse this system. In contrast, Apple users are less likely to be affected as Apple monitors what applications are being deployed on the App Store and its IOS is also susceptible to malware, unlike Android. However, Apple users are not invulnerable from these attacks as they can also be scammed into downloading certificates that gives the attacker permission to download third-party apps. After downloading these malicious applications, attackers have access to personal information, notably mobile banking apps, biometric information and two-factor authentication, enabling unauthorized and fraudulent transactions. Individuals are advised to stay vigilant by practicing habits such as:

  1. Checking the reviews of applications and be cautious of those with low ratings, numerous user complaints and little downloads. Be wary of the release and update dates of applications.
  2. Downloading comprehensive anti-virus software and only downloading applications from trusted sites.
  3. Change passwords regularly and avoid using personal information as passwords where possible.

In addition, authorities encourage the public to report any fraudulent transactions to their banks and share information about scams with family and friends. For those who suspect their device is infected with malware, the advice is to switch to ‘flight mode,’ turn off WiFi, and run an anti-virus scan on the phone. If unauthorized transactions are discovered, reporting the matter to the bank, relevant authorities, and filing a police report is essential.

Yan’s unfortunate experience is a poignant reminder that in our increasingly digital world, vigilance is paramount. For more information and resources related to scams, visit the official website or call the anti-scam helpline. Yan’s story serves as a solemn cautionary tale, emphasizing the need for awareness and vigilance in the face of evolving online threats.

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