$227.8m lost to top 10 scams in first half of 2022, as overall crime rises by 36%

The police said job scams, phishing scams, e-commerce scams and investment scams remain of particular concern. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A total of $227.8 million was lost to the top 10 scam types in the first six months of this year, up from the $142.5 million lost in the same period last year.

Job scams topped the list with over 3,500 cases reported and more than $58 million lost, according to mid-year statistics released by the police on Monday (Aug 29).

A total of 14,349 scam cases was reported this year, almost double the 7,746 cases reported in the same period last year.

In response to The Straits Times’ queries, the police said a total of $346.5 million was lost to all scams in the first half of this year. This is more than half of the $633.3 million lost in the whole of last year.

There was also a 36 per cent hike in overall crime to 25,593 cases, with a rise in outrage of modesty cases and cyber extortion crimes.

"The prevalence of scams continues to be high in Singapore. At least 90 per cent of scams in Singapore originate from overseas," said the police.

"These scammers are typically part of organised criminal groups, and run sophisticated transnational operations which are not easy to detect or dismantle. These scammers are also well-resourced, and adept at using technology to cover their tracks."

The police said job scams, phishing scams, e-commerce scams and investment scams remain of particular concern, with reports of such scams making up 74.5 per cent of the top 10 scam types in the first half of this year.

Job scams, the fifth scam of concern during the same period last year, is now the most concerning.

A common variant of the scam is tricking a victim to "help" e-commerce platform merchants improve their sales by making advance purchases. The victims are assured that their money would eventually be refunded and a commission would be paid to them.

The scammers would initially refund the victims the cost of the items and pay them commissions. They would later claim to have encountered issues with the refunds and would stop paying the victims.

Phishing scams recorded the second highest number of cases among all scam types. More than 2,300 cases were reported and the total amount lost was $7.8 million.

In banking-related phishing scams, the culprits would impersonate a bank or government official and pretend to assist victims with issues concerning their bank cards or accounts.

They would then convince the victims to provide their account details and one-time passwords.

There was a spike in the number of e-commerce scams reported, from 1,057 cases during the first half of last year to 2,267 this year.

The police said e-commerce scams generally involve the sale of goods online without delivering the items after payment is made.

"The increase in e-commerce scams is largely due to rental scams involving fake property listings, which made up 29.6 per cent of e-commerce scams."

The police said their Anti-Scam Centre froze more than 7,800 bank accounts and recovered close to $80 million in the first half of the year, which was about 31.4 per cent of the total amount scammed.

"The Anti-Scam Centre also works closely with local telecommunication companies to terminate mobile lines which are found to have been used for scams, as well as with social media platforms and online marketplaces to remove suspicious accounts and advertisements," they added.

Meanwhile, victims of cyber extortion lost more than $754,000, as cases rose to 203 from the previous 138.

In these cases, criminals would typically befriend victims online and subsequently coax them into performing compromising or indecent acts in front of a camera. The footage or images would then be used to extort money from the victims.

Instagram was observed to be the most common platform used to approach victims, followed by Facebook and Tinder, said the police.

Outrage of modesty cases went up to 773 from 739, while cases of voyeurism decreased to 216 from 236.

Housebreaking and related crimes dropped to 77 from 88 cases while the number of robbery cases decreased to seven from 16 cases in the same period last year.

This is the lowest mid-year figure for housebreaking and robbery cases in the past 10 years, said the police.

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