More than 360 scams exposed by police; 81 people probed

The victims are enticed to invest and asked to transfer money to banks mostly in Hong Kong and China.
The victims are enticed to invest and asked to transfer money to banks mostly in Hong Kong and China.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More than 150 cases, involving over 360 scams, were exposed by the police's Anti-Scam Centre (ASC) between Monday and Wednesday, said the Singapore Police Force in a statement on Saturday (July 10).

The ASC worked with six banks - DBS, UOB, OCBC, HSBC, Citibank and Standard Chartered - to target investment scams and fake gambling platform scams during the three-day operation.

The flow of money between bank accounts that appeared in police reports of potential scams was analysed.

The police said 81 people, aged 16 to 77, are assisting with investigations. The Straits Times understands police reports were filed over the last three months.

In investment scams, scammers would visit online dating platforms and claim to be financial professionals, introducing victims to investment websites or mobile applications.

The victims are enticed to invest and asked to transfer money to banks mostly in Hong Kong and China. Victims would also be asked to pay administrative and security fees or taxes to reap profits.

Said the police: "In many instances, victims will earn a profit from the investment at the initial stage, leading them to believe that the investment is legitimate and lucrative. Once larger amounts of monies are deposited into the designated accounts, the scammers will become uncontactable."

Scammers have also targeted victims on online dating platforms, introducing them to betting applications or websites.

To place their bets, victims are required to open a betting account with these bogus platforms.

They would then be given a bank account number to deposit their money in exchange for betting credits and to cash out their winnings.

Said the police: "However, the victims will subsequently be informed that their betting accounts had been frozen and that they will need to deposit more money in order to cash out their winnings."

The scammers would then become uncontactable and the websites would be inaccessible after the money had been transferred.

The police added that victims of the fake gambling platform scams who opened betting accounts and placed bets there may also fall afoul of the Remote Gambling Act.

Those convicted can be fined up to $5,000, jailed for up to six months, or both.

As for the scammers, those convicted of cheating can be jailed for up to 10 years and can also be fined.

Those convicted of money laundering can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $500,000.

The police also advised the public to adopt the following measures to avoid falling victim to such scams:

- Be wary when befriending strangers on any social media or dating platform;

- Understand that investments with high returns come with high risks;

- Always check with a licensed financial adviser before making any investment;

- Check if an entity is blacklisted on the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Investor Alert List. Deal with companies that are licensed and regulated by MAS.

For more information on scams, members of the public can visit this link or call the Anti-Scam Hotline on 1800-722-6688.

Anyone with information on such scams can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit information online at this link.