MARKETS & INVESTING | Staff Reporter, Singapore

$78,000 lost to bitcoin scammers: Police

Such schemes operate overseas, making it harder to pursue claims against operators.

A total sum of about $78,000 was lost from September to November to scammers that lured their victims through online articles that used false information about Bitcoin, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) revealed.

The police noted that these scams purposely target Singapore residents through online advertisements.

“These advertisements feature well-known personalities in Singapore, purportedly endorsing investment in Bitcoin, and claiming that it generated massive profits for him or her,” the police explained. “The online articles portrayed the investments to be safe and secure and highly lucrative.”

These bitcoin scams involve online articles that are usually paid online advertisements that act as clickbait, the authorities said. People who click the links found in the said articles will be brought to a website offering investments through cryptocurrency and other financial products.

“Those who provided contact details in the website would usually receive a call from a ‘representative’ from the scheme,” the SPF said.

The police reminded the public that they should be cautious in such schemes as they operate outside Singapore and are not regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Also read: MAS warns on fake website that lures bitcoin investments

“As such, there is no regulatory safeguards for investment in them,” the police explained. “As they do not have a presence in Singapore, it will be difficult to verify their authenticity."

Because of this, the police said that investors may face issues when wanting to withdraw their profits and initial investment amount. They will also be hindered by difficulties when pursuing claims against these operators which are based overseas, they added.

In September, prime minister Lee Hsien Loong joined the call to be wary of such bitcoin scammers amidst the rise of ‘fake news era’. Lee’s name, as well as that of deputy prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, have been used by such schemes that solicit bitcoin investments.

The prime minister has then urged businesses, tech companies, media organisations, public institutions, and the public to ‘be aware and to be responsible’ when it comes to consuming online media.

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