3 common scams in Singapore and how you can protect yourself from them

September 8, 2022

Over the past two years, Singapore has battled to keep the coronavirus under control, implementing mask mandates and an effective vaccination campaign. Many ordinary people also went out of their way to protect others, such as by shopping for vulnerable neighbours and relatives.

But while the pandemic has brought out the best in some Singaporeans, it has brought out the worst in others. Notably, the atmosphere of uncertainty has led to a significant rise in fraud over the past few months.

According to the Straits Times, Singaporeans lost around $278 million to scammers in the first half of 2022 alone. This figure is almost twice as high as it was over the same period in the previous year.

If you fall victim to fraud, it could seriously set back your progress towards your financial goals. So, read on to find out three of the most common types of scams, and what you can do to protect yourself.

There has been a surge in fraud since the start of the pandemic

Since the initial outbreak in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and work. One major difference is that many Singaporeans have visited their loved ones less often, out of fear of passing on the virus.

But while this is a sensible precaution, it has also had unintended consequences as the isolation has made some people more vulnerable to scammers.

According to the Straits Times, the rise in fraud has become so significant that the government have had to create a central database of SMS IDs for businesses. All companies who communicate with their customers by text will have to register by the end of the year or they could be blocked from sending messages.

But while this new strategy may help to prevent some fraud, it won’t be fully operational for a few months and can’t protect against all scams. That’s why it’s important to know what to look out for so you can stay safe.

There are a wide variety of scams that you need to be aware of

While fraudsters use a variety of strategies to part their victims from their hard-earned cash, there are a few common types of scams to keep an eye out for. These include:

Phishing or smishing

This is one of the most common types of scams, in which fraudsters send out generic messages to a number of victims by email or SMS and pretend to be a trusted organisation. For example, they may claim to be your bank, a delivery company, or even a government department.

Typically, they will ask for sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card details, which they can then use to steal a portion of your wealth.

Impersonation scams

This type of fraud usually involves criminals pretending to be a friend or loved one, in order to convince you to transfer money to the scammer.

For example, you might get a WhatsApp message from someone who claims to be a family member, saying that they’re using a different number since their phone is lost or damaged. They’ll then often ask you to transfer money to an account, supposedly so they can buy a new one.

According to the Straits Times, Singaporeans have lost $4.5 million to this type of scam since January.

Investment fraud

This is one of the most insidious types of scams, as they can often be difficult to spot. In fact, they can sometimes be so convincing that even professional investors fall victim to them!

Typically, the fraudster will try to get you to invest in a seemingly legitimate scheme that offers an attractive but often unrealistically high rate of return. Of course, once they have your money, the scammer then disappears and leaves you empty-handed.

It’s important to stay diligent if you want to avoid scammers

If you fall victim to a financial scam, it could seriously set back your progress towards your financial goals, which is why it’s important to be diligent. Even though fraud is becoming increasingly sophisticated, keeping your guard up can help to keep you safe.

For example, if you’re contacted out of the blue by someone who claims to be your bank or a loved one, it’s important to be wary. This is especially true if they ask for money, sensitive information, or talk to you in a pushy or aggressive way.

If you’re unsure that a caller is legitimate, it’s often sensible to put the phone down on them and get in touch with the bank or person on a recognised number.

Avoiding investment scams can be a bit trickier, but it’s important to do a bit of research on the scheme before you hand over any money. One major red flag to watch out for is if the opportunity offers returns that seem much higher than normal.

Finally, if you’re unsure about the legitimacy of an investment then speaking to a financial planner can be hugely useful. We can act as a sounding board before you make a decision, so you can steer clear of any potential scammers.

Get in touch

If you’re concerned about fraud and want to know how to protect yourself, we can help. Either contact your financial planner directly, email us at hello@ascentawealth.com or fill in our online contact form to organise a meeting and we’ll get in touch.