The Singapore Police Force (SPF) has warned about a new type of scam that targets users of Google’s search platform. The scammers usually use fake bank hotlines to trick victims into transferring money. The estimated losses are above S$495,000 ($367,775) since December 2021.
In its advisory note released Wednesday, SPF says the phishing ads would appear among the first few search results when someone searches for a bank’s contact number on Google while seeking support. The victim would then find fake contact details of the bank.
The fake bank employee would then speak with the victim wishing to resolve some account issue. The victim would then transfer money to the accounts upon request of the impersonator.
Victims can receive SMS messages that spoof the bank’s Sender ID. Such messages appear as legitimate communications from the bank. These messages would ask victims to transfer money for early loan settlement or provide instructions to reset their bank account.
“Victims would only realise that they had been scammed when they contacted the bank via the authentic hotline to verify the new bank account number or when the bank contacted them to verify the reason for the large sum of money transferred,” SPF said.
Over the past month, at least 15 victims have lost over S$477,000 to cybercrime that involved fake bank hotlines.
Singapore’s industry regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said it would roll out new security measures within two weeks. They are aimed to strengthen the security of digital banking.
“MAS is also intensifying its scrutiny of major financial institutions’ fraud surveillance mechanisms to ensure they are adequately equipped to deal with the growing threat of online scams,” it said.
To prevent such incidents, governments must help companies deal with cybercrime by developing clear guidelines and protocols.