Monday, May 20, 2024
HomesingaporepoliticsFake social media accounts created in the names of Ong Ye Kung,...

Fake social media accounts created in the names of Ong Ye Kung, Sun Xueling, Saktiandi Supaat

SINGAPORE – Another three MPs, including Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, have been hit by fake social media accounts impersonating them.

A fake Facebook account was also created for Ms Jane Ittogi, the wife of President-elect Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, said Mr Tharman’s media team on Monday.

On Sunday, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Saktiandi Supaat alerted followers to several fake accounts on Instagram using his profile photo and versions of his name.

“Please be careful and do not interact with them if they message or PM text you… My real account is @saktiandisupaat,” he said in a Facebook post.

Checks by The Straits Times also found Instagram accounts impersonating Mr Ong as well as Minister of State for Home Affairs and Social and Family Development Sun Xueling by reproducing their photos and imitating their posts.

The account impersonating Ms Sun has more than 5,000 followers and is based in Nigeria, according to Instagram.

Responding to queries from ST, Ms Sun said a friend has since reported the fake Instagram account to Meta.

In an Instagram post on Sunday night, Mr Ong said the fake Instagram accounts posing as him have been reported to Instagram.

He added: “Do not click on any of their posts, or accept requests and private messages from them.

“All my social media pages (Facebook, Instagram and TikTok) have the same handle @ongyekung.”

Mr Saktiandi told ST that his friends and followers on Instagram had been informing him via message of these fake accounts since Saturday.

At least three Instagram accounts and a Facebook account were made using versions of Mr Saktiandi’s name.

Two of these accounts were created in September.

“The impersonators had contacted them via text messaging to get in touch. So far it’s mainly Instagram, but if I’m not mistaken, there was one Facebook account.

“I’ve reported about three to four accounts with different permutations of my name to Instagram and Facebook,” Mr Saktiandi said.

The MP for the Toa Payoh East ward said he has not made a report about these accounts to the police as none of the followers who contacted him have been scammed.

When asked if he will be doing more to safeguard his accounts from impersonators, Mr Saktiandi said most of his authentic accounts already have a blue tick from Meta to verify his identity.

The paid service confers a blue tick to users when it verifies the account user’s identity through various means, including the requirement of a government ID.

He added: “What I can do is to change my profile photo and wording on my posts so my authentic account looks different.

“There’s only so much you can do because my account has to be public.”

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Of the social media pages for 88 elected MPs and two Non-Constituency MPs, there were two Facebook pages and seven Instagram accounts that did not have Meta’s verification as at Sunday.

Over the past decade, at least 14 politicians including Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing and MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling have had fake social media accounts created in their name.

In August, the police warned of a recent rise in impersonation scams, with victims being approached on social media platforms on the pretext of joining or voting in campaigns allegedly organised by local brands.

The victims’ social media accounts are then taken over by scammers or spoofed by culprits impersonating their targets’ relatives or friends.

Between Jan 1 and July 26, more than 120 people lost at least $330,000 to social media impersonation scams.

If a social media account has been compromised, it should be reported to the platform, and friends should be informed so that they do not fall prey to scammers who may use the compromised social media account maliciously.

For more information, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the anti-scam helpline on 1800-722-6688.

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