More teeth to tackle cyber criminals

While traditional crime rates have gone down, cybercrime has been on the rise, driven mainly by a surge in online cheating scams.

To give the police more teeth in tackling this scourge, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee said yesterday: "We will continue to renew our legal framework to address the transnational nature of cybercrime and keep pace with the changing tactics of cyber criminals." This could mean amending the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act (CMCA).

Mr Lee was responding to questions posed by Members of Parliament Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC), Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) and Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC) on steps taken to deal with the transnational and changing nature of such crimes. "Criminal masterminds can hide outside our borders, while making use of local henchmen to take advantage of unsuspecting Singaporeans," said Dr Tan.

Last year, online credit-for-sex scam cases increased by 1,723 per cent, resulting in a loss of $2.9 million, said Mr Choo.

The borderless and anonymous nature of the Internet pose a special challenge to law enforcement agencies around the world, Mr Lee said. Furthermore, many of the perpetrators are based overseas. As such, "many of these investigations could lead to dead ends" despite close cross-border working relationships between law enforcement agencies.

He stressed the need to step up preventive measures to tackle cybercrime, including engaging online shopping platforms to identify and remove fraudulent advertisers.

Ng Huiwen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2016, with the headline 'More teeth to tackle cyber criminals'. Subscribe