Commercial launched to educate public on online scams

SINGAPORE - A new commercial which aims to educate the public on online purchase scams, involving multiple payments, was launched on Friday (July 24).

It is the second of three anti-scam commercials developed by the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and the Singapore Police Force. The first was rolled out in May and was on lottery and extortion scams.

Online purchase scams, involving multiple payments, are cases where criminals posing as sellers of electronic gadgets cheat victims by failing to deliver the goods purchased. They then ask for further payments on the pretext that delivery orders had been mixed up. Victims typically agree to the request for further payment but end up not receiving the items.

Such cases are "one of the top scams in Singapore", said the police in a statement on Friday (July 24). There were 904 last year, up from 269 in 2013.

"The rising online crime trend is likely due to a booming e-commerce market, which saw total sales climbing to $3.5 billion last year," the police added.

Mr Tan Kian Hoon, chairman of NCPC, said: "Online shopping is a convenient way to buy things but it may not be the safest. To avoid getting scammed, we should always do background checks on the sellers or retailers. Importantly, we should be wary of offers that seem too good to be true."

The commercial will be shown on local television channels and in public places from Saturday (July 25).

limyihan@sph.com.sg