- Monetary Authority of Singapore
Crypto-crime has become an increasingly annoying side effect in the age of digital currency.
In Singapore, the Monetary Authority (MAS) has had to release several warnings in recent years to alert the public of fraudulent sites that have used fabricated news and content to lure unsuspecting victims into handing over their hard-earned money.
On Wednesday (July 31) morning, the authority yet again warned of a crypto-scam lurking on the internet – this time, with made-up statements purportedly made by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.
According to MAS, the former prime minister’s name is being used to get people to deposit S$250 into Bitcoin Loophole, which describes itself as a trading platform that can automatically initiate trades on a user’s behalf. The website also asks for registrant’s credit card or bank account details, MAS said.
“The website’s article on Bitcoins references statements purportedly made by ESM Goh which are either false or have been taken out of context and used in a misleading way,” MAS said in a statement.
“Members of the public are advised to exercise extreme caution and avoid providing any financial or personal information on the forms linked from the website,” it added.
This is not the first time a Singapore leader’s name has been used illegally by scammers, and it probably won’t be the last.
In September last year, then-Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s name was used in a similar fashion.
In the past year, there have been websites fraudulently using the names and photographs of Ministers and other prominent public personalities to solicit Bitcoin investments.
Between September and November 2018 alone, the Singapore Police said S$78,000 was lost to scammers in Bitcoin investment scams.
In January this year, MAS had also alerted the public to websites which falsely claimed that Singapore was adopting a cryptocurrency as its official coin.
What you should do
People who suspect that an investment is fraudulent can report it to the police.
In an advisory released last year, the Singapore Police Force said that it was important to remember that Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in Singapore.
“One is exposed to additional risk of fraud when investing in schemes that operate online or outside of Singapore. As they do not have a presence in Singapore, it will be difficult to verify their authenticity,” the police said.
“Investors may also encounter issues when wanting to withdraw their profits and initial investment amount, as well as face challenges when pursuing claims against these operators which are based overseas,” it warned.
More information on the risk of cryptocurrency investments can be found on MoneySense, a website dedicated to helping Singaporeans manage their money better.
There is also an anti-scam helpline (1800-722-6688) and website to assist people who need advice on the topic.
- Crypto-attacks are rising in Asia – and cybersecurity AI may be the best way to fight the threat: Darktrace
- Goh Chok Tong raised S$36,000 by auctioning his bicentennial S$20 notes – and he thought up the idea on the spot
- A woman was caught using counterfeit S$50 notes- here’s how to tell if a note is fake