Published on Jun 16, 2021 on The Straits Times
Scammers have continued to target people in Singapore during the pandemic and are now weaving vaccines and vaccination drives into their false narratives.
Recent scams have adapted their plots from that of pretending to be a Chinese official to now purportedly being an official from the Ministry of Health (MOH).
This is an extension of vaccine-related scams that the ministry had warned about earlier this year.
MOH had said it was aware of websites, e-mails, SMS text messages and phone calls falsely claiming to offer registration for vaccination.
In an instance of the latest type of scams, a person reported receiving a robocall claiming to be from MOH to scamalert.sg, the anti-scam site operated by the National Crime Prevention Council.
According to the report dated May 19, the call claimed MOH had been trying to contact the person to get a vaccine jab, and instructed the person to press “9” to get in touch with the authorities.
根据日期为 5 月 19 日的报告，该电话声称卫生部一直试图联系该人以接种疫苗，并指示该人按“9”与当局取得联系。
There is also fake Ministry of Health phone call, asking you to perform a PCR test, and instructed you to press “3” to get in touch with the authorities.
The automated message was in both English and Mandarin.
The person who reported the call, however, had already received both doses of the vaccine, and urged others not to fall for the scam.
Ms. Carolyn Misir, a principal psychologist at the Police Psychological Services Department, said scammers use several persuasion techniques that lead victims deeper into the scam’s narrative.
警察心理服务部的首席心理学家 Carolyn Misir 女士说，骗子会使用多种说服技巧，让受害者更深入地了解骗局的叙述。
“The process of the scam and persuasion techniques used are quite similar to the China officials impersonation scam, with some variation to include the Covid-19 vaccine,” she said.
她说：“骗局的过程和使用的说服技巧与中国官员的冒充骗局非常相似，但有一些变化，包括 Covid-19 疫苗。”
“Victims may be given a case reference number and the actual medical term of an antiviral medicine such as Remdesivir, so that the victim believes the legitimacy and authority of the caller.”
She said the victim may be directed to as many as four callers, who provide social proof, pretend to offer help, and create anxiety and fear, all so victims give up their personal details.
Some may also be asked to meet a “staff member” who will then pass them “official documents”.
This induces victims to part with their money and become more convinced of the scam, said Ms. Misir.
The Straits Times understands that while vaccine-related scams are known to the police, there have been few victims who have lost money to such ruses.
However, Mr. Tom Kellermann, the head of cyber security strategy at software company VMware, warned that the public should still be wary, as those behind such ploys may be after personal information which is then sold online.
然而，软件公司 VMware 网络安全战略负责人 Tom Kellermann 先生警告说，公众仍应保持警惕，因为这些策略的幕后黑手可能是在寻找随后在网上出售的个人信息。
“The vaccine has only put a larger target on the healthcare industry’s back,” he said.
“In Singapore specifically, the accelerated vaccine roll-out has led to cyber criminals attempting to steal data and private information.”
He added that scams involving the healthcare industry and vaccines can have serious consequences, such as the hampering of the mass vaccination process and loss of confidence in the healthcare system.
“Taking the proper precautions is not only in your own interest, but also in the interest of those around you,” he said.
“The best defence is to always be careful of what you click. If something looks suspicious, it probably is.”
Common scams tricks 常用咋骗技俩