Police warn of scammers who pose as procurement officers from local universities

The police have observed an emergence of a new variant of scams whereby scammers would pose as procurement officers from local universities and induce unsuspecting companies into delivering goods with promises of payments at a later date.

In such cases, the companies would receive e-mails purportedly sent by a procurement officer from a local university, asking for quotations for various items (mostly electronics and IT-related items).

The scammers would use emails bearing the template ‘procurement@___edu-sg.com’ to convince companies that they were genuine.

The following are some examples:

Once an agreement has been made, a purchase order (PO) would be sent to the company via email.

The company’s staff would believe they received a genuine email and PO from the university and would deliver the goods to the delivery address indicated in the PO.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the delivery address indicated in the POs of such scams usually belonged to freight forwarding companies engaged by the scammers to ship the goods overseas (i.e. to UK, Gambia, and Nigeria).

No payments were eventually received.

The police would like to advise companies to adopt the following preventive measures:

  • Verify that the sender’s domain name is genuine when receiving emails and purchase orders. In such cases, the domain names closely resemble those used by the universities.
  • Always verify the authenticity of the request by contacting the universities on their official contact numbers instead of the numbers provided in the email.
  • Look out for tell-tale indicators that the email received might be a scam. Indicators such as grammatical or spelling errors, or delivery addresses that could be of a private residence, freight forwarding companies or a self-storage facility, rather than that of the university.
  • Educate your employees on how to detect and protect the company from such scams.

If you wish to provide any information related to such scams, please call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. For urgent Police assistance, please dial ‘999’.

To seek scam-related advice, you may call the anti-scam helpline at 1800- 722-6688 or go to www.scamalert.sg. Join the ‘let’s fight scams’ campaign at www.scamalert.sg/fight by signing up as an advocate to receive up-to-date messages and share them with your family and friends.