3 common ways a scammer scams you

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In December 2021 to January 2022, it was in the news that 13 scammers in Singapore impersonated OCBC bank and sent spoofed SMSes to nearly 800 OCBC customers scamming them a combine of SGD13.7 million dollars. Subsequent evidences show that the victims who fell prey had provided their log-in credentials of online banking and one-time passwords (OTP) to phishing websites, allowing the scammers to take control of their bank accounts and make fraudulent transactions.


Imagine that you have worked hard and saved up for the first-half of your life and now you are preparing for retirement. Unfortunately, you fall prey to scams and lose all your hard-earned money to a scammer, there is no way you can recover your money. What would you do for the rest of your life?

Spoofed SMSes

In this blog article, it is my obligation to share with you some useful information to identify scams and hopefully safeguard your wealth.


What is a scam?

A scam is a deceptive act that a scammer tactfully taps into your greed, fear, and empathy to take your possessions (money). Scammers are excellent storytellers and are very skilful in toying with your emotions and psychology. They allow very little time for you to process and verify the information. If you are not careful, you may easily grant them access to your sensitive information, and some victims even willingly surrender their money to them. Once they get what they want, they will disappear and leave you with lifetime regret.


3 types of scams

Scams come in many forms and variations. It can be an email, phone calls, social media, e-commerce, SMS, and even a stranger on the street.

Scams that target your greed
  • Lottery, sweepstakes, and lucky draw scams: Email congratulating you for winning a lucky draw that you have never taken part in.
  • Gambling scams: Enter online casino and gamble. They will let you win in the first few rounds, once you get hooked, you are at their mercy!
  • Inheritance scams: Some strangers tell you that you have inherited an enormous sum of legacy from a distance relative, or share a fortune with someone if you can represent and claim an inheritance.
  • Parcel scams: You receive a spoofed message or fraudulent email that you have an undelivered parcel pending custom clearance, requesting you to download an attachment, asking your information or demanding payment for an outstanding fee to proceed. Usually, the scammers fake the message of a freight forwarder (UPS, FedEx) or e-commerce company (Amazon).
  • Investment scams: Investment plan that is too good to be true (very high return, low capital, and no risk), usually it forces you to make your decision given a very tight timeline.
  • Dating and romance scams: Seduce victims who are single and desperate, or in an unfulfilling marriage.
  • Job and employment scams: A scam that asks you to pay administrative or processing fees for a job opportunity. Most of the time, this scam targets the foreign workers or the unemployed.
  • Fake ticket scams: Selling counterfeit tickets for a popular concert, seminar, etc. at a very discounted price.
  • Self-help scams: Target people who are obsessed with motivational speeches and events.
Scams that target your fear
  • Phishing scams: A fraudulent message telling you that your credit card or online banking account has been hacked or suspended, you are required to share your password for verification and reactivation in order to safeguard your money. 
  • Official impersonation scams: Scammers pretend to be the government officers (police, immigration officer, lawyer, etc.) and claim that you or your loved ones are in trouble or committed a crime, demanding you to provide sensitive information for verification or to bail yourself out by transferring money to an unknown account.
  • Tech-support scams: Scammers claim that your computer system is compromised, you need to install a remote software for them to assist, then they will plant a malicious application (malware) and gain access to your security password, usually it is through a Ransomware or Trojan Horse.
    • Ransomware: A malware designed to disable your computer system until you pay a ransom fee.
    • Trojan Horse: A form of malware secretly planted into your computer system or network to capture important information.
  • Naked chat or sex scams: Chat naked and being threatened that your photos, screenshots and internet history will be circulated on the internet or to your friends.
  • Accident fakers: The swindler usually fakes an accident by pretending to be hit by your vehicle and demanding compensation. The intention is to scare and threaten the driver because no one wants an accident to happen.
Scams that target your empathy
  • Medical scams: Scammers asking for a donation to help someone in need.
  • Grandparent / grandchild (imposter) scams: Scammers impersonate your loved one asking for help. Sometimes they even trick you that your loved one is being kidnapped.
  • Donation / natural disaster scams: Unofficial channel asking for a donation for disaster assistance and emergency relief.


In conclusion, to protect yourself from a scammer, you need to know the various scam tactics as shared above. However, the list above is not exhaustive, scammers are getting more and more creative. When you come across a scam, you should always:

  1. Ignore, hang up your phone or delete the email.
  2. Stay calm, do not be curious.
  3. Do not trust whatever scammers say.
  4. Never share your sensitive information.
  5. Check all facts from other sources.
  6. Do not share your OTP or password. If needed, always verify the use of the OTP.
  7. Never reveal your banking details or any personal information.
  8. Do not scan unknown QR codes or click into suspicious URL links.
  9. Never download and install any unknown software or applications.
  10. Do not accept suspicious friend request.
  11. If your phone number or social media account is compromised, inform all your contacts immediately.
  12. Revise your passwords regularly.

Usually, you can spot a scam through a few common characteristics, such as foreign accents, automated computerised phone calls, providing an illegitimate internet link, telling you that you or your loved ones are in trouble and they are here to help.


Rest assure that your local government is on top of this, check for anti-scam hotlines (For Singapore, 1800 722 6688) and website, such as ScamAlert. Read more news to learn about the scammers’ tactics. If needed, you must always verify with the other party where they get your information, where are they calling from, get them to tell you your identity (instead of you telling them), tell them you are recording the phone call, etc. Sometimes, when you keep asking challenging questions, they will get impatient and show their true colours.

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