Spike in Internet love scams, overall crime rate continues to drop: MHA

The number of Internet love scams in Singapore has spiked in the first half of 2016, even as the overall crime rate has continued to dip.
The number of Internet love scams in Singapore has spiked in the first half of 2016, even as the overall crime rate has continued to dip. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Be careful when you make friends online, for the number of Internet love scams here has nearly doubled.

The number of such scams has spiked in the first half of 2016, even as the overall crime rate has continued to dip.

Home Team agencies statistics, released on Monday (Aug29) by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), showed that there were 298 cases of Internet love scams - crimes where victims are cheated of money while looking for love or friendship online - in the first six months of 2016.

This is almost double the 150 cases in the same period in 2015.

E-commerce cheating cases also increased slightly, from 1,010 cases in the first half of 2015, to 1,145 in the same period in 2016.

In a media release, an MHA spokesman said the police would continue to take the "multi-pronged approach of tough enforcement action, community partnership and public education" to combat these online crimes - one of the areas of concern the MHA flagged.

Still, the overall crime rate has continued to decline, with the total number of crime cases dipping 2 per cent to 16,607 in the first half of 2016, from 16,966 in 2015.

The MHA attributed the decrease to the fall in violent property crimes, housebreaking and theft.

The number of fatal traffic accidents also dropped by 12 per cent. In the first half of 2016, 66 people were killed on the roads, nine fewer than the 75 killed in the first half of 2015.

There were also fewer fires. The Singapore Civil Defence Force responded to 2,146 fires in the first half of 2016, about 11 per cent less than the 2,406 in the same period of 2015.