Fake Central Bank Crypto Underpins Scam Targeting Singapore Investors

Citizens should not provide details to websites claiming that Singapore’s government is launching a central bank digital currency (CBDC) this month, MAS has warned.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has sounded the alarm over a cryptocurrency-related Ponzi scheme. Fraudsters want financial details from investors with the promise of giving them exclusive access to a crypto asset allegedly backed by the Singapore government, the MAS said on Tuesday, warning that the country has not issued a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

The financial and banking regulator of the city-state told investors to be very careful as the scam creates fake news articles on websites that imitate prestigious US media outlets in a bid to lure high-net individuals.

“These websites falsely claim that Singapore is adopting a cryptocurrency as its official coin. They also claim that a firm has been appointed exclusively to market this cryptocurrency. The sites ask readers to provide their personal and financial details to purchase the cryptocurrency. This is a scam and members of the public should avoid providing any financial or personal information on the forms linked from the websites,” the regulator explained in its statement.

According to one of the examples provided by the MAS, the fraudsters have published fake news on a website with a similar design and logo to the US channel CNBC. The article claims that the coin was launched by the city-state on January 21, 2019, and investors could buy the world’s first CBDC only by giving their details to May Code Trader Group.

Investors who have become targets of these or similar messages should report the illicit websites to the police so that the schemes can be stopped, the MAS said.

In recent months, CBDC has gained popularity as an idea of how central banks can tackle problems related to the declining usage of cash and the need for a government alternative to popular coins such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), which are decentralized and mostly out of the state control at present. According to a 2018 Bank of International Settlement (BIS) survey, 70% of the world’s central banks are analyzing CBDC projects.

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