At least S$13.3 million lost to government official impersonation scams in December

At least S$13.3 million lost to government official impersonation scams in December

SINGAPORE: The police and Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board on Thursday (Feb 1) warned the public about a scam variant involving the impersonation of government officials. 

At least 120 victims fell prey to such scammers last December, with total losses amounting to at least S$13.3 million (US$9.9 million).

Three of these cases involved the loss of about S$488,000 in CPF savings between November to December 2023. 

In a joint press release, the police and CPF Board said victims would often receive unsolicited calls from scammers impersonating bank officers. 

Victims were asked about “suspicious banking transactions” they had allegedly made. 

The scammer would transfer the call to another scammer impersonating a government official when victims denied making such transactions or possessing such bank cards. Scammers have pretended to be police officers or Chinese officials in past cases. 

The second scammer would accuse victims of being responsible for criminal activities, such as fraud or money laundering. 

They would then be asked to transfer money to “security accounts” – specified bank accounts supposedly designated by the “authorities” – under the pretext of supporting investigations or to prevent the abuse of bank and CPF accounts. 

Banking credentials, credit card details, or one-time Passwords (OTPs) might also be requested by the scammers, while in the three aforementioned cases, the victims were told to transfer their CPF savings to their personal banking accounts.

They received instructions afterwards to make further transfers or provide the scammers their banking credentials. 

Victims would realise that they had been scammed when the scammers became uncontactable or after they verified their situation with the banks or police.

The police and CPF Board stressed that government officials will never ask members of the public to transfer monies to them, or provide their banking credentials or CPF-related information over the phone. 

The CPF Board last November implemented a suite of security measures, including setting S$2,000 as the default daily limit for online CPF withdrawals to better protect its members from scams.

For members who wish to disable online withdrawals, they can do so by activating the CPF withdrawal lock.

Increases to the daily withdrawal limit will be subject to Singpass face verification and a 12-hour cooling period.

“These measures create friction for scammers and help to reduce losses, but ultimately, it is important that members of the public stay alert against the latest scam tactics and avoid falling prey,” said the police and CPF Board. 

At least S$218,000 in CPF savings were lost to Android malware scams in the first half of 2023, the police said last September.

Members of the public who have any information relating to such scams should call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit a report online