Commercial crimes, including credit-for-sex and Internet love scams, up 47% in 2015: Police

Overall crime in 2015 went up by 4 per cent, mainly driven by an increase in online commercial crimes such as cheating involving e-commerce, credit-for-sex and Internet love scams.
Overall crime in 2015 went up by 4 per cent, mainly driven by an increase in online commercial crimes such as cheating involving e-commerce, credit-for-sex and Internet love scams.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Overall crime in 2015 went up by 4 per cent, mainly driven by an increase in online commercial crimes such as cheating involving e-commerce, credit-for-sex and Internet love scams.

There were 33,608 crime cases last year, up from 32,315 cases in 2014, according to the annual crime statistics released by the Singapore Police Force on Friday (Feb 12).

Commercial crimes went up by about 47 per cent. In particular, cheating involving e-commerce, credit-for-sex and Internet love scams rose from 1,929 cases in 2014 to 3,759 cases last year.


GRAPHIC: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

Credit-for-sex scam went up by 1,723 per cent - from 66 cases in 2014 to 1,203 cases last year.

The scams involve men being asked by seemingly attractive women on social media platforms to buy gift cards and online credits for sexual services, which the men do not get.

The total amount cheated was about $2.9 million, with the largest amount at about $74,000.

Internet love scams went up by 93 per cent, and total sum cheated was about $12 million.

Police said credit-for-sex scams are carried out by foreign syndicates. The victims are mostly men, aged between 20 and 39.

Victims of Internet love scams are mostly women, and aged between 30 and 60.

In such cases, money is usually not recovered.

The police added that it has worked with its foreign counterparts to crackdown on syndicates targeting Singaporeans. In particular, it worked with the China authorities in an eight-month crime investigation to crack down on a syndicate in China.

In the first half of 2015, it received some 627 police reports for Alipay credit-for-sex scams, resulting in a loss of $1.6 million.

They arrested 43 people after the crackdown, resulting in a drop in the number of cases.

It has also worked with Interpol and the Philippines police in the past to deal with cyber extortion cases.

Mr David Chew, director for Commercial Affairs Department, said: "Singapore is a target because we have a wonderful infrastructure for the Internet.

"As online fraud transcends national boundaries, the Police have been working closely with foreign law enforcement agencies to take action against overseas syndicates.

"Similarly, the Police will also investigate and prosecute local residents who are found to be either perpetrating an online scam or facilitating foreign syndicates in their criminal activities."

He added that Singaporeans should also take steps to protect themselves against online crime.

On the other hand, almost all other crime cases such as violent or serious property crimes, housebreaking, theft and cyber extortion went down. Unlicensed money lending harassment cases also registered a 10-year low last year.


GRAPHIC: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

Police added that the community remains its "most important partner against criminals and terrorists".

Assistant Commissioner of Police Wilson Lim, director of Public Affairs Department, said: "We will continue to involve the community in our programmes and continue to build on this strong Police-Community partnership as we keep Singapore safe and secure together."