Online scams leave victims $18,000 poorer

Some shoppers get duped into paying extra fees due to 'delivery problems'

Online scammers have cheated Singaporeans of more than $18,000, adding a new twist by squeezing victims even more after claiming delivery problems.

First, they would offer cheap mobile phones and tablet smartphones on free classified sites such as and

After shoppers have transferred the money through inter-bank transfers or Western Union to an overseas account, they would then receive an e-mail message asking for more money.

The scammers would claim that the items had been wrongly delivered to Malaysia or that they were stuck at the Singapore Customs, going so far as to provide a "seizure notice" as proof.

They would also claim that there was a delivery mix-up.

In each case, the online shopper is asked to pay an additional fee for "storage" or to retrieve the goods from Customs. The items never reached the shoppers despite the extra payment.

The police told The Sunday Times there have been 16 reports made between January and last month. And in four of the cases, the victims were duped into making further payments of at least $5,000 in total.

"The attempt to cheat victims of further payments is a new modus operandi extended from the typical e-commerce scams, where culprits fail to deliver goods purchased online," said a police spokesman.

Letters alerting the public to the scam have been put up by police in several constituencies.

This was shared by Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah on her Facebook page last Wednesday.

"You will want to ask yourself even more questions if the deal is too good to be true. There is no free lunch in this modern-day context," she told The Sunday Times.

The police advised shoppers to be aware of such scams and do business only with those they know and trust. Also, be sure to know where the seller's company is physically located.

Anyone with information related to these cases may call the police on 1800-255-0000.