90 people under investigation over scams involving $1.1m

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

Police are investigating 90 people for their involvement in 286 scams involving more than $1.1 million in total, according to a statement issued yesterday.

While no details of the scams were given, The Sunday Times understands that 50 men and 40 women, aged between 16 and 65, were picked up for crimes including cheating and money laundering over three days, from last Monday.

Those convicted of cheating can be jailed for 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.

Police have previously said they are concerned about fraud involving e-commerce, Internet love scams and the impersonation of Chinese officials. There were 487 such cases last year, against none at all in 2015.

In total, victims of Internet love scams and impersonation of officials from China have lost $47 million to scammers.

This year, there were also 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.

Earlier 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 to move money stolen through 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.

•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 advance payment is 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 be that of 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 18, 2017, with the headline '90 people under investigation over scams involving $1.1m'. Print Edition | Subscribe