How to identify a scam?

Scams have been around for years and will continue to be around. Coronavirus or COVID-19 has forced many of us to work from home and we have become increasing reliant on technology. While we preventing our life from being a roller coaster by staying home, let’s also protect our loved ones from scams as they might not be able to identify scams as well as we do. (Is this a scam: Nanning investment)

How to identify a scam
How to identify a scam


Their Preferred Target

Guess what? Scammers preferred target will not be people who are technologically savvy. They will be targeting namely the older folks who might not be reading this article (It is your job to make sure they read this). Scammers target the older folks as they are not used to ignoring an email, whatsapp message or call.

This is because, they thought that it is meant for them.

The reason behind this is if they could be singled out, it must come from a certain authority. In the distant past, there was no such thing as whatsapp broadcast or mass email. If you want to reach out to them, you have to know their contact number.

If the scam is a positive one (one they will receive money), they must have thought it was a good deal.

Most of our parents or those > 50 years old will generally fall into this category and we have to do our part to educate them about scams.  I will talk about the typical scam structure and how we can identify them.


Scam Style #1: A call from the Authorities but…

Scam Alert Police
Scam Alert Police

This is an old one. It was more popular in 2014. Individuals will get a call from the “authorities”. Most of the time, it will be a call telling the individual that they owe money to the certain authorities. The interesting thing to note is that the callers use Chinese as a main means of communication and they will not understand you if you use English.

Identify Scam Fact #1: If you indeed owe money to the authorities, you will be getting a snail mail. I believe this system will be here for a while.

Identify Scam Fact #2: The main means of communication in Singapore is English. If the authority don’t understand English, it is a tell tale sign.


Scam Style #2: The whatsapp good deal

KFC Whatsapp Scam
KFC Whatsapp Scam

This usually flourish in the group chat of our target audience. They work because of 4 reasons.

  1. It looks harmless
  2. It is an good offer that they might use
  3. You just need to “click”
  4. You can share with your friends easily

If it is free and it can be given away, there is no lost for our audience to forward it out. They might even feel good doing so (until it is too late). Here’s another one.

NTUC Fairprice Scam Whatsapp Message
NTUC Fairprice Scam Whatsapp Message

Identify Scam Fact #1: KFC/NTUC gives physical vouchers

Identify Scam Fact #2: If there is an online voucher, there will be dedicated app for it.


Scam Style #3: Recency effect


Scammer are also up to date. This above email is for SIRS Eligibility. The government is giving a grant for self-employed people to tie over the COVID-19 period. This is the real website for more information ( Registration opens on Monday 27 April 2020 (expected).

This is actually a very believable email. It works because of the recency effect and again the authority effect.

Identify Scam Fact #1: If the money is given by the Singapore government, it will not be in USD.

Identify Scam Fact #2: NTUC will not request for your personal and confidential information through such emails. (Source: NTUC U Portal)


Scam Style #4: Not enough money

Ecommerce Scam
Ecommerce Scam

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the most popular scam in Singapore. E-commerce scams were also identified as the top scam in Singapore with more than 2,000 cases reported in 2018 (Source: Yahoo News E commerce Scams).

According to the police, the common scams on Carousell involved transactions of electronic products, and tickets to events and attractions. E-commerce scams, which typically happen when buyers fail to receive items that have been purchased online, increased by 11.4 per cent to 2,125 cases last year from 1,907 cases in 2017. The total amount cheated rose to $1.9 million from $1.4 million over the period.

Buying online is tricky as we will only be able to get our good or services at a later date. Both the target audience and ourselves might fail into this trap especially when something is sold “too cheaply”.

Identify Scam Fact #1: Buy from verified sources.



There are many types of scams in the world. You can go to ScamAlert to record or look at what are the latest scams in Singapore. ScamAlert is an initiative by the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC). They are a non-profit organisation committed to promoting public awareness and concern about crime.

Nobody will be concern about your money as much as you do. ~ Quote CK

Please do get the word out as much as possible especially to the potential target audience. We often fall into such scam because of the money mindset that we originally have. (Don’t be a low baller on Carousell =p). Use the Scam Fact as a way of identifying potential scams. I wish you all the best in your wealth management journey.

Before you invest in any company or popular investment opportunity, be sure to do your own due diligence. If you wish to learn more about investing, I hope to nurture genuine relationships with all of my readers. Please feel free to contact me on my Instagram (@chengkokoh) or Facebook Page or my Telegram Channel! Or subscribe to our newsletter now!

Wishing you the best in this period of time. We hope that everyone can remain calm and healthy during this season. It is a season of crisis but it is also a season of opportunity. Invest with what you have and don’t borrow money to invest in this period of time. If you are new to investing and need help, do talk to me using the contact form.

Tags: No tags

8 Responses

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *