Girl, 13, among 537 investigated over scam cases where over $13.3m was lost

SINGAPORE - A 13-year-old girl is among 537 suspects brought in to assist in police investigations over their alleged involvement in scams where victims reportedly lost over $13.3 million.

This follows a two-week islandwide operation conducted by officers from the Commercial Affairs Department and police land divisions.

A total of 352 men and 185 women, aged between 13 and 76, were brought in for their suspected involvement as scammers or money mules in more than 1,856 scam cases.

The 13-year-old is being investigated for her suspected involvement as a scammer in an e-commerce scam.

The other suspects are being investigated for their involvement in scam cases comprising mainly job scams, phishing scams, loan scams, social media impersonation scams, Internet love scams, and government and China officials impersonation scams.

The suspects are being investigated for the alleged offences of cheating, money laundering or providing payment services without a licence.

The Straits Times reported in August that a total of $227.8 million was lost in the first half of 2022 to the top 10 scam types, including job scams, phishing scams, social media impersonation scams and Internet love scams.

Job scams topped the list, with over 3,500 cases reported and more than $58 million lost.

The Anti-Phishing Working Group on Wednesday revealed that phishing scams hit an all-time high in the second quarter of 2022, with a record of 1.09 million unique phishing sites found from April to June.

This is up from 1.02 million sites from January to March and 888,000 sites from October to December 2021.

Phishing is used by scammers to obtain personal data by pretending to be a legitimate organisation or impersonating someone.

The offence of cheating carries an imprisonment term of up to 10 years and a fine, while convicted money launderers face a jail term of up to 10 years, a fine of up to $500,000, or both.

The offence of carrying on a business to provide any type of payment service in Singapore without a licence carries a fine of up to $125,000, an imprisonment term of up to three years, or both.

The police reminded the public to always reject requests by others to use their bank account or mobile lines as they may be linked to the crimes, thereby making them accountable.

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