Scammers use hacked WhatsApp accounts to seek donations to 'buy oxygen machines for India'

SINGAPORE – Scammers are exploiting the coronavirus situation in India by asking for fake donations in Singapore for the purchase of oxygen concentrator machines, said the police.

The scammers have been using hacked WhatsApp accounts belonging to friends of their targets to claim they are raising funds to purchase the machines for donation to India, the police said in a release on Friday (May 7).

Medical oxygen, which is often used in the treatment of coronavirus patients, is in short supply in India as the country fights a deadly second wave of the virus.

Oxygen concentrators are used to produce highly oxygenated air. This helps people with low oxygen levels in their blood, which often happens to coronavirus patients.

“The scammers would emphasise the urgency of the issue and provide the victims with a bank account number for fund transfer, claiming that the bank account belongs to the supplier,” the police said.

The scammers then become uncontactable, with victims realising they had been scammed only then or when told that their friend’s WhatsApp account had been hacked.

To avoid scams, the public must beware of unusual requests over WhatsApp, even if they were sent by contacts, the police added.

They should verify whether the request is legitimate by checking with the contact offline. They must also never send money to people they have not met or do not know, and report any unauthorised transactions to their bank accounts immediately.

Anyone with any information related to these crimes can call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online.

For more information on scams, visit the ScamAlert website or call the anti-scam hotline at 1800-722-6688.

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