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SINGAPORE: Police are warning of the re-emergence of “fake friend” scams, with at least 945 victims cheated of more than S$3.2 million since January.

The cases typically involve scammers contacting victims through text messages or phone calls, pretending to be someone they know, and then asking for financial help.

“In these cases, victims would receive text messages or phone calls from unknown numbers (with or without the “+65” prefix), identifying themselves as the victims’ friend or acquaintance, and asking the victims to guess their identity,” said police in a news release on Friday (Mar 10).

“In response, victims would provide the name of a friend they believed the caller could be.”

The caller would then assume the identity of the said person, claim that he has a new contact number and ask the victim to update his contact details. For instance, he might claim that he has lost his phone.

A few days later, the scammer would contact the victim as his “friend” and ask for a loan, claiming that he is unable to perform a banking transaction or is experiencing financial difficulties. He will then provide the victim with a local bank account to transfer money to.

Victims would only discover that they have been scammed after contacting their actual friends whom the scammers had impersonated, or when their money is not returned as promised.