Won a trip to Japan? It's a hoax

Think you've just won a free trip to Japan on board a Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight?

Think again.

The airline, as well as shopping mall VivoCity, have lodged police reports about hoax phone calls asking for personal data on the pretext that recipients have won a prize in a lucky draw.

Police investigations are ongoing.

Both companies put up advisories on their website earlier this month, warning customers to guard against unauthorised requests for personal data, which could lead to identity theft.

Lucky draw scams in which money is cheated have been a perennial problem, although the number of cases fell 29.3 per cent to 128 last year, from 181 in 2012. The total amount of money cheated also dropped from $7.4 million in 2012 to $3.4 million last year.

The police, urging vigilance, said the modus operandi of con artists for such lucky draw scams is similar. The caller would call the victim to inform that they had won a lucky draw prize, citing the name of a company to lend credibility. But personal information has to be handed over before the prize can be claimed.

An SIA spokesman told The Sunday Times that the airline has "in recent months" been made aware of hoaxes under its name.

He said: "Some members of the public were informed that they have won SIA air tickets to Japan in a contest organised by Changi Airport."

They were then told to provide their full name, passport details, date of birth, and mailing address. But the spokesman confirmed there is no such contest.

Meanwhile, VivoCity Singapore has also received "a few queries from the public" about lucky draw scams.

A spokesman for Mapletree Commercial Property Management, which manages the HarbourFront mall, said the caller wanted payment, or for the recipient to contact an overseas telephone number, in order to claim the prize.

But since its online advisory was published on April 3, the mall had not received any feedback, said the spokesman, who reiterated that no payment is required to claim any prize.

Both companies said they would notify winners of genuine lucky draw contests by phone and in writing.

This article was published on April 27 in The Straits Times.

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