90 people being investigated for 286 scams involving over $1.1 million: Police

Fifty men and 40 women, aged between 16 and 65, are being investigated.
Fifty men and 40 women, aged between 16 and 65, are being investigated. PHOTO: TNP FILE

SINGAPORE - Ninety people are being investigated for their involvement in 286 scams involving more than $1.1 million in total, the police said in a statement on Saturday (June 17).

The police carried out an islandwide operation over three days from Monday (June 12) to Wednesday (June 14) and are now investigating 50 men and 40 women, aged between 16 and 65.

While the police did not reveal what all the scams were, ST understands they include cheating and money laundering.

Those convicted of cheating can be jailed up to 10 years and fined, while those convicted of money laundering face the same jail term and/or a fine up to $500,000.

According to the National Crime Prevention Council's anti-scam website scamalert.sg, the top five scams in Singapore in April this year were: online purchase scams, internet love scams, credit-for-sex scams, investment fraud and Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore impersonation scams.

This year, there were more than 40 police reports of PayPal scams lodged - where scammers pretended to buy items from victims but asked them to first make administrative payments in order to receive payments through PayPal.

Another type of scam - with more than 20 police reports made from January - involved fake Microsoft tech support pop-ups asking victims to provide credit and debit card details for "virus protection" computer software.

Early this month, there were even reports of a fake Singapore Police Force website phishing credit card and Internet banking details from victims.

The police in their statement reminded the public that those who allow their bank accounts to be used in such scams can also be investigated and prosecuted.

To avoid falling victim to scams, the police advised the following:

- Do not share your personal information such as your identification number, bank account number, One-Time Passwords, or SMS verification codes with anyone. Your personal information may be abused by scammers.

- Bear in mind that the party you are dealing with online is a stranger. Whenever possible, pay only on delivery.  

- Before performing a transaction, find out how the online site safeguards your interests or can help you resolve disputes;

- Buy goods from authorised dealers. If advanced payments are required, use shopping platforms that provide arrangements to release your payment to the seller only upon your receipt of the item.

- Be mindful that although scammers may provide a copy of an identification card or driver's licence to gain your trust, it may not necessarily belong to the person communicating with you online.

- To avoid being an accomplice to a money laundering offence, members of the public should always reject requests to use your bank accounts, as your account may be used to launder the proceeds of crime.