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Singapore police extradite Malaysians in connection with malware scam

Singapore police extradite Malaysians in connection with malware scam

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) has successfully busted a large-scale mobile malware operation. They dismantled a syndicate that defrauded victims through malicious apps.

Two Malaysian men, aged 26 and 47, were extradited to Singapore in connection with the plot. A seven-month investigation, codenamed Operation DISTANTHILLwas carried out in cooperation with police forces from Hong Kong and Malaysia. In addition, four people were arrested in Taiwan for similar crimes.

The perpetrators targeted Android users in Singapore with phishing campaigns. These campaigns likely involved deceptive emails, text messages, or fake websites that tricked victims into downloading malicious apps disguised as legitimate offers such as coupons.

Once installed, these apps (Remote Access Trojans or RATs) gave the scammers complete control over the victims’ phones.

The RATs enabled a range of shady activities, including:

  • Stealing personal information and banking information via keylogging and screenshots.
  • Monitor text messages to intercept one-time passwords (OTPs) used for two-factor authentication.
  • Real-time tracking of the victim’s location.

These actions resulted in unauthorized transfers from the victims’ bank accounts. It is estimated that more than 4,000 people are affected.

The two extradited men face significant penalties. One could face up to seven years in prison and a $50,000 fine, while the other could face up to 10 years in prison and a hefty $500,000 fine.

Additionally, assets worth approximately $1.33 million (cryptocurrency and real estate) were seized from the arrested individuals in various jurisdictions.

This case highlights the ever-present threat of mobile malware scams. Here are some key insights:

  • Be wary of unsolicited emails, text messages, and websites offering promotions or downloads.
  • Only download apps from trusted sources, such as the official Google Play Store.
  • Pay close attention to app permissions before granting them access to sensitive data or functionality.
  • Consider installing a reputable mobile security app for extra protection.

By staying vigilant and practicing safe online habits, users can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to similar scams.