The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) launched a new mobile app development in Singapore to help determine and block scam phone calls and messages in late November.
Dubbed as the ScamShield, the app runs using artificial intelligence to pinpoint keywords in a personal message from unregistered contacts and automatically transfer them into the junk folder installed in the app user’s mobile phone.
The app is also developed to report any scam messages and calls received by the users. The app will screen all incoming phone numbers to determine if it belongs to a dedicated list of known scam numbers, based on the report from other users. Once the app recognized that the incoming call comes from a reported number, it will block the calls or messages in an instant.
Users can also contribute to the list by reporting the contact details of scammers. According to NCPC, the app will forward the list to the police. In return, the police will also share their own list of scam numbers with the council.
However, the app still comes with some limitations. While it can lessen the chances for scammers to initiate contact with their potential victims through calls or short messages, the app cannot determine the location, contact lists, or personal data of these scammers. It means that there is no way to catch these criminals.
The app cannot also require the users to sign to their mobile numbers. According to the council, only the messages dispatched by unknown numbers will be screened by the app, and only the ones flagged as scam messages will be forwarded to NCPC for collection and data sharing with the police.
NPCP also warned that the numbers that do not belong to the blocked list could continue sending scams to the app users.
ScamShield, a joint mobile app development project under NCPC and the Government Technology Agency, is only compatible with iOS devices. Users can download it for free through the App Store.
When asked if the app will be available for smartphone users using the Android operating system, NCPC claimed that they have yet to fix the details for implementing the services.
The agency planned to broadcast the film on all major TV channels in Singapore and screen it on different social media networks like Facebook and YouTube.
The council reported approximately 385 reported cases of online love scams were gathered during the first half of 2020. It reportedly cost over S$13 million in losses due to this particular scam.
NCPC chairman Gerald Singham said that approximately S$102 million were lost to different types of scams during the first six months of the year, despite the council’s efforts to warn the public about the scams.
He explained that the scammers are taking advantage of the anonymity brought by the Internet. It makes the fight against them extra harder because they are extremely difficult to see. But Singham said that the council is hoping to protect the public from these scams.