3 scams students fall for and how to avoid them

Have you ever been scammed out of your or your parents’ hard-earned money?

If you have, know that many people have been in your shoes and your frustrations are valid. If you haven’t, count your lucky stars. Just know that scams can happen to anyone, and it’s best to always be prepared. Thus, I invite you to read on and learn about the common scams that target us students so that you can protect yourself and your loved ones from them.

1. Social Media Scams

There has been a surge in social media scams in recent years. The one you are most likely to have encountered would probably be the Instagram scam. It is where someone tries to impersonate your account or someone else’s account by using the same profile picture, bio, and almost the same username. Then, the scammer will “follow” all the original account’s followers and then direct message the victim’s friends. He or she will ask for their mobile number and a one-time password (OTP) under the pretense of entering a contest with them. This scam, if successful, ends with the victim’s friends having their money siphoned out of their bank accounts.

Although this has yet to happen to me, I have seen many people post screenshots of such accounts on Instagram stories letting people know the account is fake. As it’s a very common scam that many people have unfortunately fallen prey to, it’s important to know how to protect yourself from it.

Tips to Avoid Such Scams

Do:

  • Check with your friend by messaging them on another platform such as WhatsApp, SMS, or Telegram.
  • Stay alert and limit contact with the suspicious account holder until you have confirmed the identity of the person.

Don’t:

  • Trust the account holder blindly.
  • Give out your bank account details or your OTP in any circumstances.

2. Investment Schemes

When we enter uni, our priorities in life tend to shift. We start to forgo short-term gratification like endless hall parties and start to care more about our future, taking up internships and studying harder. As such, it’s at this stage of life that many youth start to experiment with trading and investments. If done wisely and at opportune times, it is true that it can be a lucrative endeavour. However, scammers know the allure of this industry and are quick to capitalise on it.

The scam goes like this: some scammers will pose as stockbrokers or bank employees and message victims on social networking sites. If the victim is interested, the scammers will ask for personal details like their NRIC and passports numbers, supposedly to fill out some forms. They’ll then be asked to send money to banks in other countries like Hong Kong and China and pay many kinds of fees (administrative, security, tax) to reap the profits.

Aside from this, scammers also use the allure of binary options trading to bait people. A binary option is an investment that can only result in two outcomes: all or nothing. The trader either gets a fixed monetary profit or loses everything. Since it promises quick returns, many people invest and some even end up losing money to scams.

Knowing such scams exist, how can we stay safe?

Tips to Avoid Such Scams

Do:

  • Investigate the identity of the stockbroker or bank employee thoroughly.
  • Research thoroughly on the investments and banks.
  • Consult professionals or people in the industry if you know any.

Don’t:

  • Take the stockbroker’s words at face value.
  • Make a reckless decision.
  • Dismiss unknown and questionable financial institutions

3. E-Commerce Scams

I believe many are familiar with Carousell scams, where we excitedly fork out money for something that appears to be a great deal. It could be a brand new PC or a pretty blouse that catches our eye. Yet, the adage “too good to be true” holds when it turns out to be the work of a scammer. Stories of scammers listing big-ticket items such as iPhones have made headlines in recent years, but some people remain none the wiser.

With the giving out of $100 SingapoRediscovery Vouchers by the government, a scheme to support the local tourism industry, it’s worth knowing that there have been scams for staycation bookings and Marina Bay Sands packages. It’s more crucial than ever that we remain alert and cautious of deals that seem too good to be true even as we source for getaways.

Tips to Avoid Such Scams

Do:

  • Be skeptical of deals that are way below market-price.
  • Ensure the seller is verified and credible.
  • Ask for cash-on-delivery.

Don’t:

  • Dismiss the lack of information on the products.
  • Do a direct bank transfer if you can use the platform’s secure payment method.

Conclusion

As scammers constantly change their modus operandi and become increasingly crypti, we should always be on our guard. We never know when they will strike or how they may disguise themselves.

But other than simply looking out for ourselves, let’s help each other as well! Do you have a friend or family member who may be vulnerable to such scams? Maybe your mum who uses Instagram but is not very tech-savvy? Or your best friend who loves buying things from Carousell? Take a moment to share this article with your loved ones so that we can all be aware of such scams and how to avoid them!

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