PM Lee says he’s been scammed before, Govt concerned about rising number of scams

PM Lee says he’s been scammed before, Govt concerned about rising number of scams

PM Lee says he was scammed when he bought something online that never arrived

With Singaporeans falling victim to scams every day, even our Prime Minister has not been spared.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in his last media interview as PM, shared that he himself has been a victim of a scam.

Source: Ministry of Communications and Information via Lee Hsien Loong on Facebook

The Government is concerned that more Singaporeans are getting scammed, he also said.

PM Lee tells Chinese media he was scammed before

PM Lee revealed his experience getting scammed in an interview with the local Chinese media aired on Friday (10 May).

In a discussion about social media and the Internet, he was asked whether he’d been fooled before by fraudulent activity over the Internet.

It turned out that he had, when he bought something “he thought was real” — but it never arrived.

Source: Prime Minister’s Office on YouTube

Later, he checked the URL of the website he used and it had the domain name “.en”, which belongs to Estonia.

Perhaps that country has different regulations from us, or someone borrowed the location, he supposed, adding earlier:

The Internet is colourful, but also a big headache.

Scammers used his identity to scam people

Other times, scammers have used PM Lee’s identity in an attempt to lure victims.

He has received screenshots of such scams from angry people, and it has become so commonplace that his only reaction is to tell people not to get angry and calm down.

The authorities will take action, he assures, and sometimes he will take to Facebook to warn people.

However, his Facebook profile can’t be like a bank app, regularly reminding people not to be fooled by fake videos, he said.

Govt concerned about scams

PM Lee said the Government is concerned that more Singaporeans are falling for scams and losing large amounts of money.

About S$660 million is lost to scams every year, he noted, with Singaporeans losing close to S$2 million every day.

If that amount of money was the result of a robbery, it would be earth-shaking to Singaporeans, he said, adding:

This is someone’s hard-earned money, perhaps an elderly person’s life savings for the last 20 to 30 years of his life, but it’s gone overnight.

Thus, such a situation is “heartbreaking” and though we may have done our best to help, it still prompts us to ponder what more we can do, he said.

Perhaps we should learn how not to be deceived, he added, as even intelligent people can be scammed.

As an example, he said bank staff who try to stop customers from being scammed may get scolded by people who think they know what they’re doing.

Learn how to question fake news: PM

One way to guard against scams is for children to be taught how to ask questions about fake news, Mr Lee suggested.

When they see a piece of news, they should ask whether it’s credible, who sent it and what’s their motive, among other questions, he said, adding:

If you see a news item saying Lee Hsien Loong is selling Bitcoin, it’s best to check it out, because unless there is something wrong with me the Internet is playing tricks.

Otherwise, fake news is a difficult problem to solve, especially with technologies such as deepfakes and artificial intelligence, he admitted.

As people with bad intentions always have new tricks up their sleeve, it’s an ever-changing problem and we may not have a way to fight it all the time, he said.

Thus, it’s something we have to continually deal with and it’s not just Singapore — other countries have this challenge too, he added.

Read the full transcript of his interview in Mandarin here.

Also read: PM Lee Warns Of Crypto Scams & Fake Ads Using His Image, Urges Public Not To Respond

PM Lee Warns Of Crypto Scams & Fake Ads Using His Image, Urges Public Not To Respond

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Featured image adapted from Prime Minister’s Office on YouTube.

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