At least $380k lost to e-commerce scams for electronic products in first 3 months of year

At least 531 police reports on such scams were received between January and March this year.
At least 531 police reports on such scams were received between January and March this year.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - A spike in e-commerce scams involving electronic products between January and March this year saw victims losing at least $380,000 in total, said the police on Tuesday (April 21).

At least 531 police reports on such scams were also received during the same period.

These figures represented an increase of 43.9 per cent and 129.9 per cent in the total amount lost and number of reports received respectively, compared with the same period last year.

According to figures released by the police, phones made up a majority of the electronic products involved in the scams, at 46.5 per cent.

The other products include:

- AirPods (16.8 per cent)

- Game consoles (13.2 per cent)

- Laptops (7.3 per cent)

- Tablets (6.6 per cent)

- TVs (5.6 per cent)

The police also said that they received several reports from victims who had purchased Grab credits and Apple iPhones at discounted prices on online marketplace Carousell, between January and February this year.

 
 

The seller became uncontactable after these victims made deposit payments via bank transfers and was eventually arrested last month.

E-commerce scams, together with loan scams and credit-for-sex scams, made up more than 60 per cent of the top 10 scam types last year, according to figures released by the police in February.

The figures also showed that about 45 per cent of e-commerce scams last year occurred on Carousell, with the rest taking place on other digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Shopee and Lazada.

On Tuesday, the police advised members of the public buying electronic products online to do so only from authorised sellers or reputable sources, especially for high-value items.

The public should opt for buyer protection by using in-built payment options that release payment to the seller only upon delivery, and to avoid making advance payments or direct bank transfers to the seller whenever possible.

"Scammers may entice buyers to contact them directly through messaging platforms such as WhatsApp or WeChat by offering a better or faster deal if bank transfer payments are made directly to them," the police said.

The police added that scammers may also use a local bank account or provide a copy of an NRIC or a driver's licence to convince victims that they are genuine sellers.

Those with information on such scams can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit a form online.

 
 

They can also call 999 if urgent police assistance is required.

To get more information about scams, the public can call the anti-scam helpline on 1800-722-6688 or go to the relevant website.