We have recently received enquiries from members of the public who have fallen victim to a new trend of scams that has been widely rampant in Singapore.
These scams typically start off with victims receiving ‘marketing’ text messages or chancing upon online advertisements offering loans.
Upon responding to these messages or advertisements, the victims are redirected to a WhatsApp chat conversation where they are asked to furnish their personal particulars for verification purposes for the process of the loan.
The scammers proceed on to send numerous fake messages, emails and letters, purportedly from governmental organisations, such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
These letters will cite fabricated local statutes in a bid to coerce and dupe the victims to pay an amount that is labelled as a ‘processing’ fee before the loan gets disbursed.
Most victims fall prey to this intimidation and deception, resulting in them losing more of their hard-earned money, only realising their predicament when they do not receive the loan amount they had applied for in the first place.
According to the Singapore Police Force, more than $3.9 million had been lost collectively up till the month of April 2021, to a scam in which swindlers masqueraded as Singapore High Court or Interpol officials. (Straits Time Article May 26th 2021)
Over 20 such similar incidents have been brought to our attention this year alone.
In light of these disturbing events and statistics, we feel obliged to create awareness for the general public by equipping them with the proper knowledge and information that would prevent them from getting entangled in such a crisis, which are as follows;
1. In accordance with the Registrar’s Directions on Advertising and Marketing licensed moneylenders are only allowed to advertise on the front of their business operating premises, on their own websites, or in consumer and business directories. There is no allowance extended to them by the governing authorities to reach out to members of the public via SMS messages and telephone calls, social media and video hosting sites, or online advertisements. There is also a strict prohibition on Licensed moneylenders from misrepresenting their products to potential borrowers. (Extension of protections for borrowers of licensed-moneylender)
2. A fully online loan transaction is not permissible according to the laws that regulate licensed money lending in the Republic of Singapore. It is mandatory for all licensed moneylenders to meet borrowers at an approved place of business to conduct a physical face-to-face verification of his/her identity before granting any loan. (mlaw.gov.sg – List of licensed Moneylenders in Singapore)
3. The licensed money lender is not permitted to obtain any administrative fees before the disbursement of the loan as a form of payment to any government agency. In the event an administrative fee is needed for other reasons, such a fee should be deducted from the loan principal before said loan is dispensed and not taken as a separate payment.
4. In the event any individual is of the strong opinion that a loan from a licensed moneylender is the only way to resolve any financial crisis that he/she might find themselves in, we strongly encourage them to verify the website address using only the list of licensed moneylenders found at the following link (mlaw.gov.sg – List of Licensed Moneylenders).
5. Individuals who are looking to obtain a loan or already have obtained a loan from a licensed money lender can visit the following link (mlaw.gov.sg – Relevant Laws and Regulations).
Mr. Roger fervently admonishes the conduct of these grifters whose only intention is to prey on the weak and vulnerable. We strongly advise the public to perform their own due diligence and take heed of the aforementioned advice before committing to obtain any loan from any licensed moneylender. As much as it might seem like the only available option to whatever monetary problems an individual might face, the consequences that follow are dire when rushed into it and would only induce further mental trauma for you and your loved ones.