Internet Scams Revealed by Singapore Newspaper!!

Internet scams flourishing

28 May 2007

Straits Times
(c) 2007 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

Internet fraudsters snare new victims every day. Khushwant Singh gives the lowdown on some time-tested ploys and uncovers some newer schemes

The 'Nigerian scam'

How it is done

First concocted by a Nigerian scammer, one version has a supposed African official offering a big cut if you could help 'unfreeze' millions in a late bureaucrat's bank account. But here is the catch: You have to pay cash up front to cover some transaction costs. More money is requested, 'snags' occur, and your money is gone.


Last year, 12 Singaporeans were cheated of $676,400 in this way - more than double the $327,000 lost by five victims in 2005. In 2004, the figure was $78,400. Many other victims may be too embarrassed to come forward.


Be wary of get-rich-quick offers, say police. Contact the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) on 6325-0000 if you smell a ruse.

Online auction ruse

How it is done

After hijacking the online auction account of a legitimate seller by fraudulently acquiring his password, the fraudster will offer sought-after items at very low prices.


Last September, watch collector Bernard Tan, 53, searched online auction sites for a 1970s Rolex watch. He contacted an auction site in the United States, which had many 'testimonials from satisfied customers'.

He wired US$4,200 (S$6,400) to a bank in San Francisco for a watch he wanted, as instructed. Ten days later, a rusty 12cm iron strip arrived.


Internet auction sites are still a high risk, especially when expensive items are involved. More tips can be found on

Offer of highly paid job

How it is done

The lure is usually a high-salary job - without the hassle of going through an interview or showing supporting documents.

The fraudsters often have official-looking websites and - of course - will ask for money in advance, purportedly to acquire work visas and for travel expenses.

Not conned

Ms Sara Dacillo, a Filipina married to a Singaporean, posted a 'job wanted' advertisement on the social networking website Days later, she was offered £600 (S$1,791) a week to work as an au pair, or nanny, in England. She was then asked to send £1,200 to a personal account in Lagos, Nigeria, for visa and travel arrangements. Suspicious, Ms Dacillo, 36, sent no money.

There were 67 reports of online job scams here in 2005, and 48 last year. One victim was a 56-year-old security guard who was cheated of US$2,100 after he was promised a job as a hotel security director in Bahrain with a monthly pay of US$9,000.


Genuine job offers will have the company's e-mail address. It is also unheard of to offer high-paying jobs without a face-to-face interview.

Bogus investment

How it is done

Unsolicited e-mail promises hefty profits for investors. In a variation, victims are 'appointed' to help manage a sizeable investment account for a generous fee but need to deposit money for an insurance bond first.


Recently, Mr Vincenzo Comboni, an Italian practising law in Switzerland, deposited US$1.125 million into an account of a Singapore firm thinking it was payment for an insurance bond, so as to be allowed to manage a $20 million investment coming out of South Africa. Instead, his money was used to pay for goods bound for Nigeria.


As in the earlier examples - be suspicious.

Fake marriage proposal

How it is done

A gorgeous woman wants to get to know you, with marriage in mind.


In a recent case, Indian national Bharani Indran, 32, a software engineer in the US, was fooled by a Singaporean woman he got to know through a Yahoo Internet chatroom in September 2004. They exchanged photographs.

But the woman, Maliha Ramu, 36, sent him a picture of a gorgeous Indian actress, and he asked to marry her.

A convoluted scam followed in which he wired nearly US$45,000 to her. Meanwhile, she kept postponing their marriage date. Mr Bharani finally grew suspicious when she asked for another US$10,000 in May 2005.

He flew here and reported the scam. Maliha was jailed for six months in March.


Stay away from love at first site - chatrooms or e-mail from Internet sites, that is.

Million-dollar lottery prize

How it is done

Sweepstakes or lucky draw scams are at least 30 years old. The latest variation involves a US$10 million prize from the ' Microsoft Award Team'. Winners are asked to transfer some money in advance for taxation purposes.


Such scams still find victims, with 26 people parting with amounts ranging from $500 to $58,000 last year. In 2005, 16 victims lost between $1,500 and $90,000.


If you do respond, as soon as money is asked from you, contact the CAD.

Identity theft and fraud

How it is done

In the scam known as 'phishing', recipients of the bogus e-mail are tricked into disclosing passwords, bank PIN numbers or credit card numbers. E-mail attachments may contain a 'Trojan Horse' virus - which allows a hacker to capture every keystroke and 'read' victims' computers to access bank accounts, or to purchase items on credit card accounts.


There has been no report of a successful phishing scam here although there have been a few attempts.

Banks will never send an e-mail asking for confidential information. Also, do not click on any link or open attachments in e-mail purportedly sent by a bank, credit card company or service provider. Internet fraud is on the rise.


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