Police arrest 44 people suspected of cheating victims of more than $150,000

SINGAPORE - Forty-four people were arrested this week for cheating.

The 26 men and 18 women are believed to be involved in various scams, including online purchase scams, and were nabbed in a three-day police operation.

Six foreigners are among those arrested, who are aged between 18 and 54 and are suspected to be involved in 150 cases where people were cheated of more than $150,000 in total.

The number of people who fell for scams involving e-commerce jumped from 510 cases in 2013 to 1,659 cases in 2014. Police said victims had typically responded to online advertisements offering items at attractive prices, and were convinced by the scammers to make advance payments.

In most cases, victims were instructed to make bank transfers to a local bank account. However, the goods were not delivered as promised. In some cases, victims were asked for further payments for customs duties, delivery charges and taxes.

Those who commit e-commerce fraud are often based overseas and recruit local bank account holders to receive the victims' money.

Investigations are ongoing.

If convicted of cheating, offenders face up to 10 years in jail and a fine. Those arrested may also be investigated for money laundering offences under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, and face additional penalties of up to 10 years' imprisonment and a $500,000 fine.