50 Telegram users lose $18,000 after their accounts taken over by scammers posing as known contacts

At least 50 Telegram users lost a total of at least $18,000 this year after losing control of their accounts to scammers who tricked them into providing their handphone numbers and Telegram-generated login codes.

The scammers would use a compromised account of the user's known contacts:

The users would be asked to provide a screenshot of their Telegram chat history.

Unknown to the users, the screenshot would reveal a Telegram-generated login code because the scammers would simultaneously trigger a Telegram login code for the user’s Telegram account.

Alternatively, the scammer could ask the user to help the scammer locate someone on Telegram and instruct the user to search for specific usernames in their chat history, then provide a screenshot of the search results. The screenshot would invariably contain a Telegram login code.

In other cases, the victims were asked to help verify or unblock the Telegram account of a known contact that had been restricted by Telegram.

To help verify or unblock the Telegram account, the users would send a request to a Telegram handle that masquerades as a "customer service bot", which would then ask for the users’ details, such as the mobile number.

The users would then be asked for their Telegram login codes or are sent URL links masquerading as a verification button to allow their "friend" to log in to the user's Telegram account.

The scammer could also ask the user to help secure a free Telegram membership.

The user would be tricked into participating by clicking a link to allow the scammer to log in to the user’s Telegram account, resulting in the user losing access to his or her Telegram account.

Once the scammers took over the users’ Telegram accounts, the scammers would then target the victims’ contacts to repeat the same ruse to take over their Telegram accounts or ask for money in the form of loans to perpetuate the scam.

The users would only realise they had been scammed after they discover that their Telegram account was no longer under their control or when the loan was not returned.

In some cases, the scammers would access information, such as photographs or videos, in the users’ Telegram chats and use the information to extort money from victims and their contacts.

For more information on scams, you can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800-722-6688.

For more information on securing your Telegram account, you can go to the Cyber Security Agency website more information.