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S’pore Victims Lose S$10M To Online Ad Scams, They Install Apps That Allow Unauthorised Transactions

SPF Warns Of Online Ad Scams Causing Victims To Lose S$10M In 1st Half Of 2023

Yesterday (20 Sep), the Singapore Police Force (SPF) issued an advisory about online advertisement scams encouraging victims to download apps containing malware onto their Android devices.

Citing the advisory, Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reported that over 750 cases have occurred in the first half of 2023, with victims losing at least S$10 million.

As such, the public should adopt precautionary measures including setting up two-factor authentication and downloading the ScamShield app.

SPF issues advisory warning of online ad scams

According to CNA, victims of the scams would encounter advertisements for services like home cleaning, pet grooming and food purchases on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

They would then reach out to the sellers through the platforms or WhatsApp.

Source: Daniel Romero on Unsplash

Thereafter, the scammers would send them a link to download an Android Package Kit (APK) file, created for Android’s operating system.

After downloading and installing the app, which gives the criminals accessibility services, they would be told to transfer a deposit of S$5 via PayNow.

Without their knowledge, the malware’s keylogging function would be able to steal their Internet banking credentials upon the transfer.

The scammers would subsequently access and perform unauthorised transactions from the victim’s banking account. They would then begin a factory reset on the device.

SPF added that the victims would typically realise the transactions had occurred after contacting their banks or redownloading the banking apps.


More than 750 such cases have occurred in the first half of 2023, with losses amounting to at least S$10 million.

Public advised to take precautionary measures

SPF thus took the opportunity to reiterate the danger behind downloading mobile apps from third-party or suspicious sites.

They have advised the public to adopt precautionary measures including using the ScamShield app, setting up two-factor authentication and placing limits on Internet banking transactions.

Users should also only use official app stores to download apps which would be Google Play store for Android.

In addition, they must exercise caution if asked to download unknown apps to purchase goods and services on social media.

Steps to follow for those with malware-infected phones

Those who suspect that their devices have been infected with malware can follow the steps below, as reported by The Straits Times (ST):

  • Turn your device to flight mode and switch off Wi-Fi; refrain from switching it back on
  • Run an antivirus scan on the phone
  • Use a separate device to check your bank, Singpass and Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts for unauthorised payments
  • If there are any, report them to the bank and police

Users can also opt to do a factory reset of their device and change important passwords as an additional precaution.

Also read: OCBC Adds Security Feature To Fight Malware Scams, Requires Users To Delete Sus Mobile Apps

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Featured image adapted from NordWood Themes on Unsplash.

Sudeshna Dhar

Sudeshna is a lover of all romcoms, especially Gone Girl (2014).

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