Police data set to show online crime on the rise

Ministry flags concerns as sex scams, e-commerce fraud likely to add to overall crime tally

A rise in online offences is expected to be revealed when police release their annual crime statistics tomorrow.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) yesterday flagged several concerns from figures to be released by the various Home Team agencies over the coming days.

The number of arrested harbourers and employers of immigration offenders has increased while the unauthorised change of use of premises and illegal fire safety works continue to cause the highest number of fire safety violations.

The MHA said online crime has been on the increase since 2013.

Last August, mid-year police statistics showed that credit-for-sex cases, e-commerce cheating and Internet love scams contributed to an overall rise in crime.

  • 66%

    There was some 66 per cent more e-commerce cheating cases in the first half of last year, compared to the same period in 2014.

  • 627

    The number of credit-for sex cases recorded in the first six months of 2015, with victims cheated of about $1.6 million.

  • $3.8m

    The amount handed over by victims of Internet love scams. There were 141 cases in the first half of 2015 .

There were 66 per cent more e-commerce cheating cases in the first half of last year, compared to the same period in 2014.

Some 627 credit-for-sex cases - a trend which emerged in the second half of last year - were recorded in the first half of 2015, with victims cheated of about $1.6 million. In the second half of 2014, there were just 66 such cases.

The scams involve men being asked by women on social media platforms to buy gift cards and online credits in return for sexual services which the men do not get.

Internet love scams also went up by more than 50 per cent - from 92 cases in the first half of 2014 to 141 in the same period in 2015 - with victims handing over some $3.8 million.

The Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report - carried out by security firm Norton and released in November last year - showed that victims of cybercrime in Singapore lost an average of $545 each in the past year, higher than the global average of US$358 (S$498). The figures were US$483 for China and US$261 for Australia.

The report also found that one in five adults had been a victim of online crime.

In December, 43 members of a fraud syndicate were arrested in China after conning Singaporean men into paying for sexual services that they never received.

Police said in August that the rising trend of online crime was a cause for concern and urged the public to be alert and "exercise due diligence".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2016, with the headline 'Police data set to show online crime on the rise'. Print Edition | Subscribe