SINGAPORE - At least 30 people have fallen prey to online hotel booking scams this year, with many more cheated out of concert and attraction tickets bought off the Internet, the police said on Friday (Sept 1).
In July alone, 24 people were scammed when they booked hotel rooms online. They fell prey to attractive hotel room reservations deals on online platforms, which required them to make a deposit or pay in full to reserve the rooms.
However, after the payment is made, the people facilitating the deals will become uncontactable. One victim was cheated out of $2,300, the largest sum a single victim lost among the 30 cases, said the police. At least $18,000 were cheated from the victims in total.
The police on Friday urged the public to be vigilant when making online purchases, especially those involving hotel room reservations as well tickets to concerts or attractions.
It has also received numerous reports of online scams involving the sale of tickets to concerts and places of attraction, where the victims failed to receive the tickets after they paid, or were given invalid or expired tickets.
One of the scammers, a 29-year-old man, was sentenced to 12 weeks' of jail on Wednesday (Aug 30) for cheating and criminal breach of trust.
He had created multiple accounts on online selling platform Carousell to mask his identity, and would sell items including Universal Studios Singapore tickets and concert tickets, at prices significantly lower than retail prices. But he either did not send the tickets to the buyers, or sent them fake tickets.
The police added that 114 people are now being investigated for suspected involvement in various scams.
The suspects - 57 men and 57 women aged between 15 and 82, are believed to be involved in 294 scam cases involving more than $1.5 million.
A person found guilty of cheating faces jail of up to 10 years and a fine under the penal code.
In addition, anyone found guilty of money laundering could be jailed for up to 10 years and/or be fined up to $500,000 under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.