It’s like the scammers read the news (which they sadly and probably do), and realise what methods are now useless, so they go back to the drawing board with three collective braincells named Feasibility, Deception, and Fraud.
This time around, they’ve become even smarter, because they’re now targeting Singpass QR codes.
Honestly, it makes me want to compliment their creativity, almost.
Alas, they are focusing their creativity into crime, so the compliments are unwarranted.
How the Scam Works
Step 1: The scammers usually create fake surveys or recruitment messages through online forums and e-commerce sites.
Step 2: To gain the trust of their victims, they purportedly conduct these bogus surveys under a reputable company or organisation’s name from Singapore. The scammer will usually communicate with its possible victims through WhatsApp, promising monetary rewards for completing the survey.
Step 3: After the survey is completed, scammers will ask their victims to scan a QR code with their Singpass application, claiming that it’s part of a verification process before the rewards are disbursed.
The problem now lies in the fact that the QR code screenshot provided by the scammers did come from legitimate websites. They can come from government agencies, insurance firms or banks, or other services that require Singpass authentication.
By scanning the QR code and authorising the “transaction”, the victims are fooled into giving scammers access to all sorts of personal details.
The Notification of the Consequences
Afterwards, the scammers will use the access to register businesses or open bank accounts under your name, typically for illegal purposes.
However, victims will only realise that they’ve been scammed after they receive notifications from their telecommunication service providers or banks, or an alert from their Singpass Inbox which tells them their personal details have been intruded upon.
By then, it would already be too late.
… I probably shouldn’t mention that scammers tend to sell and share the retrieved information among their circles, should I?
Can It Prevented?
In light of the new scam, the police warns the public against scanning QR codes delivered via SMS or WhatsApp.
It follows the same rules as the warnings for the other scams: don’t click or touch anything that seems suspicious.
Actually, most links, numbers, deals, and promises of riches coming through WhatsApp, SMS, or Telegram is usually fake. No one is that kind to give out free money, let’s be real.
Additionally, here are a few tips that might be useful:
- Check the number that the alleged “survey” is coming from, if it’s an overseas number instead of (+65), then report and block the number immediately.
- Check the message contents carefully, because scammers are notoriously bad at spelling and grammar for some weird reason.
- After entering any survey, check the link in your browsers to see if there’s anything off about the link address and ensure that it is a secure site.
- To our knowledge, there are no surveys that will require access into your Singpass account.
Even if there really are surveys that promise monetary reimbursement for your time, they will never ask for access to your Singpass account.
Sure, normal surveys might prod into your gender, ethnicity, age group, and whatnot, to get a sense of the demographics of their survey participants, but those fields are usually not compulsory for you to answer because normal and legitimate surveys understand the right to information privacy.
Ultimately, your name or NRIC is not as important to them as your responses to the survey questions.
Any promise of monetary reimbursement is usually done through the collection of e-mail addresses or phone numbers, wherein they will do a one-way monetary transaction through digital services like PayPal and PayNow, or send you a claimable voucher code, to say, Amazon or Kinokuniya.
And if they’re supposedly posing as a “government agency”, please remember that government agencies tend to conduct their surveys through phone calls, because they don’t need your numbers when they already have them.
Dear readers, please stay vigilant against these scammers!
Featured Image: Shutterstock / Shcherbakov Ilya