SINGAPORE - Since the start of this year, at least 384 people have fallen prey to Internet love scams, losing at least $15 million to the crooks.
The scammers and victims typically befriend one another on social media and develop a relationship, the police said in a statement on Thursday (May 19).
In most cases, the scammers would claim to have sent valuable gifts to the victims. Thereafter, the victims would receive calls purportedly from delivery couriers, informing them that the parcels were detained by the authorities.
To secure the release of the items, the scammers would ask the victims to make online payments to third party bank accounts.
In another variant, the scammers would request the victims to provide financial assistance. Victims would be asked to purchase gift cards and share the activation codes with the scammers or transfer money to third party bank accounts.
The victims would usually realise they have been scammed when they contact Singapore Customs to ask about the delivery charges or when they feel suspicious about the encounter and contact the police to check on it.
In 2020, there were 822 Internet love scam cases, a more than 13-fold increase from the 62 cases reported in 2011.
The police advise the public to adopt precautionary measures, such as exercising caution when befriending strangers online, and to never send money to people whom they do not know or have not met in person before.
Those with information on such scams may call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit it online at their website.
For more information on scams, people can visit the Scam Alert website, or call the anti-scam hotline on 1800-722-6688.