Received an offer for a windfall? Beware of Scams!

You may have received letters or emails informing that you have been given an inheritance or selected to receive a huge sum of money that has been left in a dormant account.

The letter or email claims that all you have to do to get your hands on the cash is to provide some personal information, such as your bank account / credit card details, or transfer funds to a particular party or account to cover administrative expenses like taxes and transfer fees.

What’s more, the offer seems credible as the letter or email appears to originate from a reputable organisation, or even a government agency.

Be careful if you receive such a letter or email. It could well be a scam!

Here are a few tips on how you can protect yourself:

CAUTION Never send money or provide your bank account or credit card details to anyone you do not know and/or trust.

Once you reveal your bank account or credit card details, your funds can be withdrawn. Once your money is transferred to a third party, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to get it back.

With advancements in technology, fraudsters can insert any organisation’s logo and name or even an individual’s signature in documents. Fraudsters can also create websites with false information to mislead consumers.

So, even if a document bears the logo and name of a reputable organisation, or makes reference to a website that appears credible, do not assume that the document is genuine.

CHECK If someone asks you to transfer money or provide your personal information that would enable them to withdraw your funds, contact the organisation(s) mentioned in the document directly to check if the document and offer are genuine.

- If the document mentions any government agency in Singapore, you may refer to for the agency’s contact information.

- If the document mentions a financial institution in Singapore, you may refer to the MAS Financial Institution Directory for the institution’s contact information. This directory lists the financial institutions regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to operate in Singapore. Also, take note of the activities that the financial institution is authorized to conduct in Singapore.

- If the person claims to be representing an FI, ask for his unique representative number so that you can confirm his appointment from the MAS Register of Representatives. You would also be able to know the regulated activities which he is allowed to conduct, and any suspensions, revocations and prohibition orders issued by MAS.

- Do also check the Investor Alert List.  This is a list of entities that are not authorised to conduct MAS-regulated activities in Singapore.

For more tips, refer to the following:

1. Protect Yourself Against Bogus Investment Opportunities - which provides information on common scams and tips on how consumers can protect themselves from falling prey to such schemes.

2. If Something Is Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is – which reminds consumers to exercise caution when they receive offers from unregulated schemes or entities where the returns are unusually high, and provides key questions consumers should ask before they hand over any money to any product or scheme provider.

3. Pitfalls of Dealing With Unregulated Persons - which advises consumers to: (i) deal with regulated persons; (ii) find out as much as possible about the firm and its staff; (iii) understand the product they are buying; and (iv) ensure that the product fits in with their financial goals.

For more information on crime alerts and other common scams, check the website of Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the Singapore Police Force.