SINGAPORE - A joint operation conducted in several Malaysian states last week yielded 27 arrested suspects believed to be involved in cross-border Internet love scam syndicates.
The operation, which took place from Feb 6 to 8, was a joint effort between the Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID), Royal Malaysia Police, Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD).
Among those arrested were 13 Nigerian nationals believed to have had a hand in 108 such scams reported by victims in both Singapore and Malaysia.
The victims' total losses were estimated at around RM21.6 million (S$6.9 million), said SPF in a news release on Monday (Feb 13).
Telecommunications devices, computers and ATM cards were also seized during the operation.
"This marks the first successful joint investigation between the two departments against elusive criminals involved in syndicated Internet love scams," SPF added.
It added that during the course of joint investigations, the CAD provided "timely information" to the CCID, which allowed its investigators to establish the suspects' identities.
While arrest operations were ongoing in Malaysia, the CAD coordinated investigations against six female suspects in Singapore who transferred criminal proceeds to Malaysia-based suspects.
CAD director David Chew said: "The success of this joint investigation is a testament to the close ties between CAD and CCID. Online scams are increasingly complex and transnational in nature.
"To the criminals who think that they could hide behind the cloak of anonymity provided by the Internet to perpetrate fraud, we want to send a deterrent message that crime does not pay."
According to the SPF's 2016 crime statistics released last week, Internet love scams in Singapore hit an all-time high.
There were 636 cases, up from 385 in 2015. The total amount cheated was also the highest by far at $24 million - double the $12 million victims were fooled into giving in 2015.