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The Straits Times
May 17, 2023
Responding to an advertisement selling multiple kinds of otah on Facebook, a man was told by the seller to download an app to place a deposit. He keyed in his bank details but realised later that day that his phone had been compromised.
The next day, someone claiming to be from his bank called and told him that there had been attempts to make transactions on his credit card. He was given a link to download ScamShield, which filters scam messages and calls from numbers used in illegal activities.
After he downloaded the second app, he realised his phone had been compromised again.
In a Zoom interview arranged by the police on Wednesday, the man, who wanted to be known only as Mr Chan, 55, told the media: “I felt very stupid, how can I fall into a scam twice? It was a very frightening episode. And an emotional setback, given that I did not realise what was going on despite so many messages from the Government and media.”
In an advisory on Tuesday, the police highlighted such scams, reminding the public not to download suspicious apps as they may contain phishing malware that scammers can use to control the victim’s device.
Mr Chan, who is unemployed, said he had clicked on the ad on May 13 and left his contact details in a message. He was contacted by a woman via WhatsApp later the same day and told that he needed to place a deposit of $12 through an app.
He felt something was amiss when his bank password was not hidden as he keyed it in, but carried on with the transaction, only to receive a message saying that the payment had failed.
Despite telling the seller he would pay cash, the woman insisted that he had to use the app to make a deposit.
At that point, his phone screen started to flicker. He managed to uninstall the app, but only after trying multiple times.
After going back to the seller, she convinced him to download the app again. The payment did not go through this time as well. When his phone screen again started flickering, Mr Chan said: “I realised that something was very wrong and I uninstalled the app again.”
Later that night, he realised that his Google account had been compromised after he received a notification that someone was trying to access it from an unfamiliar phone.
The next day, he received a call from someone claiming to be from the POSB bank fraud team. He was told that his account had been compromised, and that there had been three failed attempts to get a cash advance on his credit card totalling $70,000.
Checking his account, Mr Chan saw the attempted transactions and called POSB to get his card cancelled and have a new one issued. Soon after, the man claiming to be from the fraud team called and told him to download ScamShield. The logo in the link that was sent to him looked exactly like the actual ScamShield logo.
Said Mr Chan: “I told him that I already have the app, but he told me that it was not the real one and that his version was approved by the Government. After downloading it, my phone (screen) started to flicker. I got worried that I was being scammed for the second time.”
He uninstalled the app. The next day, he cancelled his new card and made a police report.
“Following this episode, I would not dare download anything from a third party,” he told the media.