An 27-year-old online scammer in Singapore has been arrested after conning women into sending him topless photos. The Singaporean police said that the man hacked in to Facebook Messenger to scam women into taking photos of their bare chests in pretence of using them for a “breast cancer screening online project”.
According to AsiaOne, he was arrested along Orchard Road on Monday (6th June) night by the police after investigations of several reports from the victims since May.
It is not known if the scammer is a Singaporean, but Hype Malaysia can confirm that a similar incident affected a 34-year-old Malaysian woman, who was on holiday with her boyfriend in Japan at the time.
Note: We’ve censored her name to protect her privacy, considering the fact that she already had a lot to deal with following the identity theft.
According to the victim, let’s call her Anna, she was using a public WiFi network in a ramen shop in Japan when the hacker managed to take over her Facebook Messenger and began sending messages to the people on her contact list requesting for nude photos. As seen in the screenshot above, which was personally sent to a Hype Malaysia team member, the hacker even promised cash and gifts once the photos were sent across.
In speaking about the incident, Anna said that the man also managed to take over her Yahoo e-mail account with her personal information, banking, and other details such her local phone operator and social media linked to it. On top of that, he managed to de-link everything and added a different e-mail account that was similar to her username.
Upon realising that her Facebook Messenger as well as her other accounts had been hacked, Anna urged her friends on her Facebook contact list to report her original account as hacked. She also told them to ignore the hacker’s messages.
After going through what must have been a frustrating and nerve-wracking flight home, as soon as Anna returned to Kuala Lumpur, she went to a police station in Kelana Jaya, Selangor to file a report, before taking it up further with the Malaysian Communications And Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in Cyberjaya due to the severity of the case. As aforementioned, Anna’s personal information, banking, and other private details (phone operator, social media platforms) were compromised, effectively classifying her case as an identity theft.
“It’s not about my social media accounts but all my details in my e-mail. So now, the hacker has a copy of my IC and staff ID, and he has been distributing it to people. People now know where I live. I was a wreck last week,” Anna said, adding that she also had to go through the hassle changing her online banking details as soon as she landed back in Kuala Lumpur.
That having said, there’s a high chance that man who was arrested in Singapore was the same man who hacked in to Anna’s account, based on his location and modus operandi.
“I knew he was from Singapore or Johor Bahru area as Facebook alerted me that someone was trying to log in to my account from Singapore/near Johor Bahru. Unfortunately, Facebook allowed him to proceed with the login although I clicked no, I’m not that person,” Anna revealed. It is not known how or why Facebook went ahead and allowed him to log in.
On top of that, the Singaporean police confirmed that there has been several reports from the victims since May, around the same time that Anna’s Facebook Messenger was hacked too.
Now, how can you best protect yourself from being hacked?
Especially when you’re travelling, try to avoid connecting to public WiFi networks/services at cafes, hotels, malls, airports, etc. Of course it’s convenient and more often than not free of charge to use but the data sent through public WiFi can be intercepted by hackers. As such, many mobile device, tablet, and laptop users are risking the security of their personal information, digital identity, and money.
Worse yet if said mobile device or laptop isn’t protected by effective security/anti-malware. You’re basically opening the floodgates for hackers to access your passwords, e-mails, banking credentials, and other valuable information.
But if you absolutely have to connect to a public WiFi network/services, ensure that you have the two-factor authentication on services that support it (Gmail, Twitter, Facebook) enabled. And please try not to use a universal password across all your accounts. Sure, it’s a hassle to remember a multitude of passwords, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Above all, there is no such thing as an online breast cancer screening. All breast cancer screenings should be done either via a Mammogram or a Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) at a certified and legit medical/health centre.
Finally, never ever send nude photos to anyone online!
Featured image: hdaconsultingllc.net.