The Police have observed a new variant of scams involving malicious dating applications (apps). Since July 2023, at least 19 victims have fallen prey, with total losses amounting to at least $13,000.
In these cases, victims would receive in-app messages from female subjects on TikTok or over dating apps like MI Chat or Tagged. The victims would be asked to continue the engagement on WhatsApp. The scammers would then entice the victims by asking if they would like to continue chatting via a one-to-one video call while being naked or date the girl of their choice, or to access nude videos/ photographs of the female subjects. The scammers would send victims a uniform resource locator (URL) link over WhatsApp, requiring the victims to download an Android Package Kit (APK) file, an app created for Android’s operating system. After downloading and installing the APK file, the scammers would be able to retrieve the victims’ banking credentials once they log in to their internet banking accounts. Subsequently, victims discovered unauthorised transactions from their banking accounts.
The Police would like to remind members of the public of the dangers of downloading apps from third-party or dubious sites. Members of the public are advised to adopt the following precautionary measures:
- ADD – anti-virus/anti-malware apps available on official Play Store or App Store to your device. Update your devices’ operating systems and applications regularly to be protected by the latest security patches. Disable “Install Unknown App” or “Unknown Sources” in your phone settings. Do not grant permission to persistent pop-ups that request for access to your device’s hardware or data.
- CHECK – for scam signs with official sources (e.g., visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Helpline on 1800-722-6688). When asked to download unknown apps, check the developer information on the app listing as well as the number of downloads and user reviews to ensure it is a reputable and legitimate application.
- TELL – authorities, family, and friends about scams. Report the number to WhatsApp to initiate in-app blocking and report any fraudulent transactions to your bank immediately.
If you have already downloaded and installed the app or suspect that your phone is infected with malware, please take the following steps:
- Turn your phone to “flight mode”.
- Run an anti-virus scan on your phone.
- Check your bank/Singpass/CPF accounts etc for any unauthorised transaction(s) using other device(s).
- If there are unauthorised transaction(s), report to the bank, relevant authorities, and lodge a Police report.
- After completing steps a-c, if you believe that your phone has not been infected with malware, you may resume usage of your phone. As a further precaution, you may consider doing a “factory reset” of your phone and changing important passwords.
If you have any information relating to such crimes or if you are in doubt, please call the Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. All information will be kept strictly confidential. If you require urgent Police assistance, please dial ‘999’.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800-722-6688. Fighting scams is a community effort. Together, we can ACT Against Scams to safeguard our community!
Example of a conversation over WhatsApp ▼
Example of the malicious dating app that victims were asked to download ▼
PUBLIC AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
17 August 2023 @ 7:30 PM