Police warn of return of loan scam involving fake emails from banks and government agencies

The police are warning the public about the resurgence of a loan scam.

Between Sep 1 and October 4, there were 17 victims who collectively lost more than $130,000.

In these cases, victims would receive unsolicited text messages or come across websites or advertisements offering loans.

The victims would then be directed to apply for the loan via WhatsApp where the scammers would inform the victims that the loan had been approved.

However, the victims would be required to make payments of varying amounts for purported collateral fees, processing fees or validation fees.

The scammers would also provide fake emails purportedly from banks or government agencies such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore or Ministry of Home Affairs, which would indicate that the administrative fee was required under specific regulations before the loan could be disbursed.

Victims only realised that they had been scammed when they did not receive the loan after paying the fees.

The police advise members of the public of the following:

Licensed moneylenders ("LML") are not allowed to make cold calls or send unsolicited text messages to members of the public;

  • LMLs cannot approve or grant loans to a loan applicant without having the loan applicant turn up physically at the LML’s approved place of business.

  • The LML is obliged under law to verify the identity and particulars of the borrower in a legitimate office. The address of each licensed moneylending office is published on the list of licensed moneylenders on the Registry of Moneylenders website; and

  • LMLs will not ask a loan applicant to make any payment before the disbursement of the loan, or to make any payment to secure the disbursement of the loan. These include GST, "admin fee", "processing fee", or any other purported fees. An administrative fee may be charged by the LML after the loan has been granted, but this will usually be deducted from the loan principal that is disbursed to the borrower.

Members of the public are also advised to take the following precautions with regard to such scams:

  • Ignore such advertisements and do not reply to these messages. Instead, block or report the number as spam on ScamShield, WhatsApp or through other third-party applications; and

  • Do not provide your personal information such as NRIC, SingPass or bank account details to anyone, especially unverified sources.

If you have information related to such crimes or if you are in doubt, call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. Dial '999' if you require urgent police assistance.

For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.

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