Being a victim of scams can be very distressing, given the financial, social, and emotional impact it has on us. With statistics showing a marked increase of scam cases in 2021 and the recent arrest of over 157 suspects linked to nearly 500 cases of scam, it is clear that scam is on the rise in Singapore. Recently, our team has contributed to a media article on the psychological impact of scams. As such, this article serves to highlight the threat of scams and support you if you have been a victim.
Here are some helpful things for you to know:
- Understanding scams — Common types of scams
- What are some common psychological impacts of scams? (You’re not alone!)
- What should I do from here?
Common Types of Scams in Singapore
Scammers impersonate a bank (such as DBS, POSB, or OCBC), and direct recipients to rectify issues such as errors or accounts being suspended through a link, usually requiring them to key in their bank details. In doing so, scammers gain access to victims’ bank account details withdraws from their accounts.
Scammers employ a variety of methods to cheat victims on e-commerce sites. Some of the scams involved are such as:
- Selling popular goods at a low price, such as Nintendo Switches, before disappearing with the payment
- Listing “jobs” that require a victim to make advance payment to a non-existent e-business to boost sales; victims instead transfer money into the scammer’s bank account
- Sending out messages to users awaiting delivery, informing them that their packages have been lost and asking for recovery payment
Scammers send out messages via SMS or WhatsApp while impersonating licensed moneylenders. Loan scammers often require victims to place multiple deposits into a bank account as “set up” processes for trial loans. However, borrowers never receive the loan amount promised as the scammers disappear with the deposit.
The Psychological Impact of Being Scammed
What can I do if I am a Victim?
It is important that you talk about what happened to you with trusted family members and friends. While this can be a vulnerable step, having someone know about what happened and walk with you through the difficult emotions, thoughts, and consequences would be very helpful in the long run.
Allow yourself space for self compassion and regulate your self-talk. Everyone makes mistakes, and while you might feel responsible for the plight you’re in, remember that your emotions, however negative, are valid. Acknowledge your emotions and the reasons why you are feeling this way; give yourself the permission to engage in hobbies or distractors to take space away from this matter if you need it. While processing the pain and grief, learn to encourage yourself as well. While your emotions are valid, they might not be helpful in helping you move forward. Recognise that no amount of self-beating can change the past and all you can do is to take the next best step forward.
Work on a plan to recover financially, emotionally, and/or relationally. Remember that it will be a long journey, but everyone has to start somewhere. Find out what your next step towards recovery is and take it, be it doing research on the process of recovering the money, making reports, or attending counselling sessions to work on personal trauma.
If you are a family member or friend of a scam victim, be mindful not to engage in victim blaming. While there are always “should have”s and “could have”s, remember that scam victims are, after all, still victims. A large part of fault still lies with the scammers themselves.