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There has been a resurgent in a scam involving scammers listing fake property listing on websites and contact victims through WhatsApp chats pretending to be property agents.
The police said in a statement that scammers would then ask the victims for deposits to secure an appointment for viewing of the property.
At least 144 victims have fallen prey to such scams, with losses amounting to at least $190,000 since January this year.
In these cases, the victims are typically led to a WhatsApp chat from unknown numbers with a Singapore country code (+65) after clicking on a link on the advertisements.
Using spoofed number to liaise with the victims, the scammers would use photos, names and licence numbers of legitimate property agents that can be found on rental websites to deceive victims into believing that they are legitimate property agents.
Victims who were interested to view the advertised properties would be asked to make refundable deposits to secure an appointment and be provided with bank account numbers of phone numbers to transfer the money.
The victims would only discover they had been scammed after the scammers ceased contact with them.
The police advise members of the public to adopt the following precautionary measures:
Beware of unknown numbers with the “+65” prefix, especially if you are using WhatsApp chats;
Beware of property listings on alternative platforms. Verify the legitimacy of a listing by ensuring that the contact number matches the one on the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA)’s website, where details on agencies are listed;
Property agents are not authorised to handle cash transactions. Therefore, no payments should be made before a house viewing;
Do not transfer money to unknown persons.
Anyone with information on such scams may call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000 or submit information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
For more information on scams, visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.