49 suspected online cheats and money mules under police investigation

SINGAPORE - The police are investigating 49 people suspected of being online cheats and money mules in more than 150 online scams, involving over $170,000.

The 30 men and 19 women, aged between 13 and 64, are mostly believed to have helped receive and transfer illegal funds on behalf of criminal syndicates.

Others are thought to have posed as online sellers of various products, who did not deliver the products to their buyers even after receiving payment.

The investigations follow an islandwide police operation conducted between Tuesday and Thursday.

The suspects have had their bank accounts frozen while investigations are ongoing.

An Association of Banks of Singapore spokesman said in a police statement: "We would like to remind bank customers that their personal bank accounts are for their own use and they should not agree to receive any money on behalf of others, especially if the sources of the funds are unknown.

"Bank customers may get into trouble with the law if it is found that funds in their accounts are from crime-related activities. In addition, the bank may close the bank account if there is reasonable suspicion that it is being used for illegal activities."

If convicted of cheating, the suspects could be jailed up to 10 years and fined. For money laundering offences, they face a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $500,000.

Police cautioned members of the public to be wary of when strangers try to befriend them online, and not to give out their bank and credit card details and personal information to anyone they do not know.

When purchasing something online, they should always check the track record of the party they are dealing with, and use reputable sites and payment platforms with established refund policies.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg