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News  22, Aug 2012

Microsoft and National Crime Prevention Council caution Singaporeans of phone scams

Callers scamming peopleMicrosoft and the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) advises fellow Singaporeans to be more wary of IT product-related phone scams due to the rise of phone scams that have cheated large amount of money out of victims.

Even though many Singaporeans are tech-savvy, some may not be as cautious as those who shield themselves with knowledge of phone scams. According to a report by the Singapore Police Force’s Mid-Year Crime Brief 2012[1], 32 cases of IT product-related phone scams were recorded in the first half of this year. Five victims transferred a total sum of S$1,462 to scammers, each transferring amounts between S$100 and S$800.

In order to shed some light on how scammers work, they typically perform in the following ways:

1.            A scammer claiming to be a Microsoft technical support staff calls up a victim to inform some defects in their computers hence in need of a security or software update;

2.            Scammers may have personal details of the victim, making him/her sound like a very convincing Microsoft representative;

3.            When victim takes the bait, the scammer would insist the victim to download and install software from the Internet. As such, identification codes and passwords of the software user account would be provided to the scammer; and

4.            After gaining access into victim’s computer, the scammer would remotely control or delete files to convince victim to buy additional software by purchasing online and providing their credit card details. In some cases, scammer may gain access to confidential date to perform illegal online transactions.

“NCPC is glad to work with stakeholders like Microsoft to raise public awareness and reduce the number of people conned. Phone scams are one of the emerging trends in Singapore and in the first half of this year alone, the total amount of money cheated through the various types of phone scams was S$2.37 million.  We would like to encourage the community to spread the message to their family, friends and colleagues to be vigilant and help prevent scammers from preying on more victims,” Mr Tan Kian Hoon, Chairman, National Crime Prevention Council commented.

In order to avoid such phone scams, do keep in mind of these few prevention measures which include ignoring such calls, do not follow instructions of caller to download software and do not make any payment or reveal credit card or bank account details to callers.

Concerned public members can contact Microsoft Singapore at 800-852-3543 if they have further queries or concerns about phone scams and victims of phone scams should immediately report the matter to the police at 999.

Read the full press release below.

 

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Singapore — 16 August 2012 — Microsoft and the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) today cautioned Singaporeans to be alert against IT product-related phone scams in Singapore, in light of recent increase in phone scams that have cheated hundreds of dollars out of victims.

As reported recently in the Singapore Police Force’s Mid-Year Crime Brief 2012[1], 32 cases of IT product-related phone scams were recorded in the first half of this year, during which, five victims transferred a total sum of S$1,462 to scammers, each transferring amounts between S$100 and S$800.

In such phone scams, scammers normally pretend to be representatives of well-known IT brands, such as Microsoft, to trick victims, as products from these brands are likely to be owned by most people.

The recent phone scams typically unfold in the following manner:

1.     A scammer, claiming to be a Microsoft technical support staff or a Microsoft partner, calls up a victim and informs him/her that their computers or notebooks may be experiencing problems and are in need of a security or software update;

2.     The scammer may have many personal details of the victim, for example, name and home address, so as to convince the victim that he/she is a genuine representative from Microsoft;

3.     Once the victim is convinced that the call is genuine, the scammer would ask the victim to download and install one or more software from the Internet. The victim would be asked to provide the software user account identification codes and passwords to the scammer. In some cases, the scammer would direct the victim to a website that allows remote control of the computer; and

4.     Once access has been gained into the victim’s computer, the scammer would remotely control or delete files to convince him/her to buy additional software by making online payments or providing their credit card details. In some cases, the scammer may  gain access to confidential data within the victims’ computers that can be used for illegal online transactions.

“Microsoft treats these phone scams seriously as it may lead to a compromise of personal data and loss of money. We have been working closely with law enforcement agencies across Asia to stem these phone scams. We have found that the best deterent is the alert and well-informed individual as phone scammers would always invent new tricks and scenarios to cheat their victims.”

“NCPC is glad to work with stakeholders like Microsoft to raise public awareness and reduce the number of people conned. Phone scams are one of the emerging trends in Singapore and in the first half of this year alone, the total amount of money cheated through the various types of phone scams was S$2.37 million.  We would like to encourage the community to spread the message to their family, friends and colleagues to be vigilant and help prevent scammers from preying on more victims,” said Mr Tan Kian Hoon, Chairman, National Crime Prevention Council.

 Members of the public are advised to adopt the following crime prevention measures:

Ignore such calls;

Do not follow the instructions of the callers to install any software into your computer or enter any commands; and

Do not make any payment or divulge your credit card or bank account details to the callers.

Concerned public members can contact Microsoft Singapore at 800-852-3543 if they have further queries or concerns about phone scams.

Victims of phone scams should immediately report the matter to the police at 999.

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Winnie Nelson

Winnie Nelson

Winnie is currently a TESL undergraduate from the University of Malaya. She used to write English articles for a number of Malaysian newspapers and has won several awards for her writing. Passionate in languages, she speaks several Chinese dialects, as well as English and Bahasa Malaysia. Currently a distinction class student, she aspires to undergo a fast-track program and receive her PhD by the age of 27. A black belt holder in TaeKwonDo and a fan of good bubble milk tea.

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