Several reports of investment scams between September and November 2018, where several online articles used false information to promote investment in Bitcoin, were received. A total sum of about $78,000 was lost to the scammers.
These investment scams are advertised online and are designed to target Singapore residents. 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 online articles portrayed the investments to be safe and secure and highly lucrative.
The online articles are usually paid online advertisements that act as a “clickbait”. By clicking on a link within the article, one will eventually be brought to a different website, offering investments through the trading of cryptocurrency and/or other financial products. Those who provided contact details in the website would usually receive a call from a ‘representative’ from the scheme.
What should you do?
- Such investment schemes operate from outside of Singapore and are not regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Members of the public are strongly advised to be cautious about investing in such schemes.
- Members of the public are reminded that Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrencies are not legal tender. They are not used by any government and are not backed by any assets or issuer. As in most jurisdictions, MAS does not regulate cryptocurrencies. As such, there is no regulatory safeguards for investment in them.
- One is exposed to additional risk of fraud when investing in schemes that operate online or outside of Singapore. As they do not have a presence in Singapore, it will be difficult to verify their authenticity. Investors may also encounter issues when wanting to withdraw their profits and initial investment amount, as well as face challenges when pursuing claims against these operators which are based overseas.
- Anyone with information on fraudulent activities taking place through such unregulated online trading platforms can call the Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. For urgent Police assistance, please dial ‘999’.
- To seek scam-related advice, please call the anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or go to www.scamalert.sg. Help spread the word and share this advisory with family and friends to prevent them from being the next victim of scam.
In addition to these measures, always practise “ASK, CHECK and CONFIRM” before committing to an investment.
- ASK – ASK as many questions as you need to fully understand the investment opportunity. If the company is unable to, or avoids answering any of your questions, be wary!
- CHECK – CHECK on the company, its owners, directors and management members to assess if the opportunity is genuine
- CONFIRM – CONFIRM the company’s and representatives’ credentials by using available resources, including the Financial Institutions Directory, Register of Representatives and Investor Alert List on the MAS’ website (www.mas.gov.sg).