SINGAPORE— The Singapore Police Force has issued a warning to the public regarding a new variant of a phishing scam that involves the fraudulent download of a fake ScamShield App.
A 55-year-old Singaporean named Jiang recently shared his experience of encountering such scam and nearly lost his saving.
According to Lianhe Zaobao, on 13 May, he came across an advertisement for otah on Facebook and contacted the seller, providing his phone number as instructed.
A scammer claiming to be “Lucas” contacted him later. He decided to place an order for the otah priced at S$12, but the scammer insisted that he download a mobile application and pay a S$3 deposit through a provided link.
After following the instructions and downloading the application, the victim noticed that something was amiss. His phone screen brightness would automatically dim, and he informed the scammer that he was unable to make the payment.
He attempted to delete the application but found it couldn’t be removed. Only after forcibly resetting his phone’s system did it return to normal.
The scammer sent him another link, but it still didn’t work. Mr Jiang said in the end, they agreed to purchase the otah using cash on delivery.
“Bank staff” told the victim to download fake “ScamShield” App
The following evening, the victim received a call from someone claiming to be a bank staff member, informing him that there were three unfinished transfers in his account.
The “bank staff” told the victim that the ScamShield mobile application downloaded from the app store might be unsafe and provided him with an alleged official link.
ScamShield is an anti-scam product developed by the Singapore’s National Crime Prevention Council and Open Government Products, with features including checks incoming calls against a list maintained by the Singapore Police Force and blocking suspicious scam calls, automatically detects scam messages and llows users to report scam messages and calls.
Mr Jiang discovered three unsuccessful transactions totalling S$70,000 in his account
Upon downloading the “ScamShield App” through the link, the victim noticed that the screen brightness dimmed again, realizing that he had been deceived.
The victim later alerted the matter to the police.
After conducting online checks, Mr Jiang discovered that three transactions totalling S$70,000 had indeed not been completed. He promptly called the bank to cancel his credit card and block his account.
The police urged the public to exercise caution and avoid downloading any suspicious applications on their devices, as they may contain phishing malware that allows scammers to gain control over victims’ devices.
In a statement issued on Tuesday (16 May), the police said in this particular scam, unsuspecting individuals encounter advertisements for food items on social media messaging platforms like Facebook, specifically targeting Android mobile users.
Once interested, victims would initiate contact with the scammers via WhatsApp, where they are then provided with a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) to proceed with the purchase of the food items and make the payment.
However, unbeknownst to the victims, unauthorized transactions are made from their bank accounts or credit cards.
Shortly after the fraudulent transactions, the scammers reach out to the victims, posing as bank staff and claiming to investigate the suspicious activity.
Deceptively, the scammers recommend the victims to download the ScamShield App using a URL link that fraudulently displays the ScamShield logo.
The scammers assert that this action is necessary to protect themselves against further scams and make a report within the app.
“Scammers would insist that the URL link provided is legitimate and would inform victims not to download the ScamShield App from the official Google Play Store.”
The police remind members of the public of the dangers of downloading applications from third-party or dubious sites that can lead to malware being installed on victims’ mobile phones, computers, and other Information Communications Technology (ICT) devices.
To ensure a safe and secure experience, individuals interested in downloading the ScamShield App on their Android devices are advised to consult the official setup guide available at https://www.scamshield.org.sg/setup-guide/.