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Online scams remain a threat amid Covid-19

In this difficult time, cyber criminals are taking advantage of people’s heightened fear and concern to exploit them for their own benefits. We should not be taking online scams with a pinch of salt as a citizen’s livelihood could be taken away in a split second due to unawareness. With the increasing number of online scams, knowledge and verification is the key to protect one from such schemes.

Here are some online scams that are relatively common due to Covid-19:

1. Impersonating as government personnels

According to the Straits Times, there have been people impersonating MOH staff claiming that China officials have seized their parcels as it contains contraband medicine to treat Covid-19. They will go through a series of interrogation and request for the victims’ personal information such as their NRIC, passport details, Internet banking credentials in order to clear their names. This has caused several victims to lose $110K to these fake officials.

Another recent case was people impersonating as officials to solicit bank account details from the members of the public. Due to Covid-19, the government has introduced a Solidarity Payment to tide through the difficult period and they requested the public to provide their bank details by filling up a form on their website. However, scammers took advantage of the situation and pretended to be officials in order to pry for bank details.

You should always be aware that official personnels would not ask for your personal information. Always double check information via the official website. When in doubt, never give away any information, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Nintendo Switch has become increasingly popular among teens and even adults as the circuit breaker period allows more time for entertainment purposes. Hence, many people are turning to Carousell to purchase the Nintendo Switch or the trending game Animal Crossing. With the increase in demand, scammers started posing as Nintendo Switch sellers on Carousell, normally offering a relatively cheaper price for the console. Unsuspecting buyers would then make a deal with them and transfer the money over. Once the money has been received, scammers will completely block out their buyers and make it impossible to contact them. And if you are unaware, a Nintendo Switch console costs around $700, which means that you could potentially lose $700 in a blink of an eye.

To protect yourself from such scammers, it is always encouraged to purchase items off verified websites or accounts. Sometimes getting an item for a cheaper price might not necessarily mean a steal, the item could probably be a dupe. If you are intending to splurge on more expensive items, it is encouraged to purchase it directly from the brand’s online store.

Earlier in the year, cyber criminals have been making use of coronavirus to spread computer viruses through emails. Riding on the pandemic, the emails usually contain clickbaits such as information on how to protect yourself from Covid-19 or recent updates from the government. This would prompt undetecting users to open the mail and download the files. Once downloaded, the computer virus would take over the computer and cyber criminals are able to access private information stored in the computer.

Such incidents can be prevented if you choose to hesitate for a moment before opening an email. Always double check and verify the email handle. If you would like to receive the latest updates, retrieve it from official websites like Straits Times or Ministry of Health.

Online scams have become increasingly common over the years, especially when it is so easy to reach out to someone through various communication platforms. Additionally, with so much information placed in front of us, we can easily forget how to discern which are fake and dangerous. Hence, it is so important to practice critical thinking. It is always better to be doubtful and go out of our way to verify an information than to become a victim of scam.

You can play your part in advocating for a safer online space. If you love drawing, you can contribute to raising awareness about scams by participating in our Make The Change Design For Good youth competition! All you have to do is create an artwork that speaks for a better internet space. Click here to learn more!

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