32 under police probe over e-commerce, commercial crimes

After a three-day police operation, 32 people were hauled up for e-commerce and commercial crime-related offences that led to losses of more than $1.5 million for the victims.

The police said yesterday that 22 men and 10 women, aged between 17 and 56, are currently assisting in investigations. The suspects are believed to be involved in 39 cases.

The operation was conducted from Monday to Wednesday by officers of the Clementi Police Division.

Twenty-six suspects are believed to have allowed their bank accounts to be used by criminals to facilitate scams, including online purchase rackets advertising concert tickets and electronic products, loan scams and impersonation scams.

The 26 are being investigated for cheating under the Penal Code or for money laundering under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.

If convicted of cheating, offenders can be jailed up to 10 years and fined. The crime of money laundering carries a jail term of up to 10 years or a maximum fine of $500,000, or both.

Five other suspects are being investigated for cheating, while the last is being investigated for criminal breach of trust under the Penal Code.

If convicted, offenders may be jailed up to seven years and fined.

Members of the public are advised by the police to be wary of online advertisements of items at low prices that sound too good to be true.

Shoppers should also avoid making payments or deposits in advance, and arrange for payments to be released to the sellers only after the items have been received. Alternatively, they should arrange to meet the seller and pay only on delivery, said the police.

To avoid being an accomplice to crimes, members of the public should reject requests by others to use their bank accounts or mobile numbers as they will be held accountable if these accounts are linked to illegal transactions.

Those who wish to provide any information related to such scams may call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness

For urgent police assistance, they should call 999.

To seek scam-related advice, the public can call the anti-scam helpline on 1800-722-6688 or visit www.scamalert.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2019, with the headline '32 under police probe over e-commerce, commercial crimes'. Print Edition | Subscribe