SINGAPORE - In a three-day operation, 70 people were arrested for their suspected involvement in 187 scam cases.
The 41 men and 29 women, believed to be linked to scams involving more than $629,000, were arrested between Monday (Dec 5) and Wednesday, the police said in a statement on Thursday.
In most of the cases, the culprits advertised items for sale online, then asked victims to make deposits or advanced payments to local bank accounts before the items would be delivered.
But the items never showed, and the salesperson would be uncontactable.
Most of the scams occurred on online marketplaces such as Carousell, Gumtree, Craigslist and Facebook.
The online purchase scams featured attractive discounts of up to 50 per cent on goods such as electronic products and vouchers; tickets to concerts and local attractions; and personal accessories such as branded bags and watches.
Other than sellers, those who allegedly helped criminal syndicates to register for mobile lines and/or received the illegal funds in their bank accounts were arrested as well.
The suspects are being investigated for the offence of cheating, which carries a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine, or for money laundering, which carries the same jail term and a fine of up to $500,000.
Police reminded the public to be vigilant when shopping online as the festive season approaches, adding that the public should always reject requests for the use of bank account or mobile phone lines, to avoid becoming an accomplice to crime.
The public should take the following precautions when shopping online:
1. Bear in mind that the party you are dealing with online is a stranger. Before performing a transaction, find out how the online site safeguards your interest or can help you resolve disputes.
2. Whenever possible, pay only on delivery.
3. If advanced payments are required, use shopping platforms that provide arrangements to release your payment to the seller only upon your receipt of the item.
4. Be mindful that although scammers may provide a copy of an identification card or driver's licence to gain your trust, it may not necessarily belong to the person communicating with you online.