Scammers took more than $160 million from their victims last year, marking a 50 per cent surge in such cases and pushing the overall crime rate to its highest in nine years. More money was also lost to scammers last year, with the total amount hitting at least $168.1 million - a 16 per cent increase from the $144.9 million the previous year. This is the highest amount lost in a year since 2016. Had scam cases been excluded, the total number of reported crimes would have decreased by 4.7 per cent. Clearly, scams are the crimes of the digital present and future. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the top four scams in Singapore are e-commerce, loans, credit-for-sex, and Internet love scams.
Scammers have thrived in recent years by using the Internet to aid their schemes, causing an increase in all kinds of scams in Singapore since 2018. To combat that threat, the Singapore Police Force set up the Anti-Scam Centre, a specialised nerve centre that works with industry partners to combat scams, in June last year. It has had commendable results already, having recovered 35 per cent of victims' losses. However, most victims of transnational scams often have little to no chance of recovering their losses after the transfer has been made. The onus falls on individuals, therefore, to be careful in countenancing tempting offers which are too good to be true. Unrealistic bargains, quick cash with low interest, forlorn strangers looking for love at a price, and phishing scams should be familiar to most Singaporeans by now. If some keep falling for such ruses, the fault lies not in the stars but in the logic that a fool and his money are soon parted.