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Police warn of fake bank hotlines in Google search advertisements, victims lost $495,000

Orignally published on 2022-01-19 07:58:39 by www.straitstimes.com

SINGAPORE – The police have warned of scam advertisements on Google search where fake bank hotlines appear when users search for banks’ contact numbers.

Since last month, at least 15 victims have fallen for such scams, the police said in a statement on Wednesday (Jan 19).

The losses amounted to at least $495,000.

In such cases, the victims wanted to seek advice from the banks and searched for the banks’ contact numbers. They would then come across the scam advertisement’s fake contact numbers, which appeared as the first few search results on Google search.

The victims would call the fake number and speak to a scammer impersonating as bank staff.

“After sharing the reasons for contacting the bank, victims would be informed that there were issues with their bank account, credit/debit cards or loan amount,” the police said.

The victims were then instructed to temporarily transfer their funds to bank accounts provided by the scammer, under the pretext of resolving their bank account or credit or debit card issue, or to make a payment for an outstanding loan.

In some cases, victims received an SMS message with the sender name showing that of the bank – spoofed by the scammers.

The message claimed that the bank was facilitating a reset of the victims’ bank account “as part of the ‘Let’s Fight Scam’ campaign by the Anti-Scam Centre and Singapore Police Force”.

Other messages also stated that the victim needed to transfer money for early loan settlement.

The police said: “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.”

The police advised members of the public to always verify information with numbers listed on official bank websites, or behind the cards issued by the banks.

Orignally published on 2022-01-19 07:58:39 by www.straitstimes.com

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