Music video, anti-scam apps among tactics used by police to fight scams

Technology-savvy young people are falling victim to scams. ST PHOTO: THADDEUS ANG

SINGAPORE - At first glance, it looks like a typical K-pop music video but the song, which features three young and stylish female singers, is about how people can spot the signs and stop scams.

The police had launched the video, created with content platform SGAG and the National Crime Prevention Council, on Tuesday (Feb 15) to remind viewers to stay vigilant.

Technology-savvy young people are falling victim to scams.

Those between 20 and 39 years old formed the largest group of victims for phishing scams, scams on jobs, e-commerce, investment, loan, China official impersonation scams, as well as fake gambling platform scams.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan revealed this on Tuesday as he addressed questions in Parliament on the scam situation in Singapore.

Aside from the video, the police said they have taken other steps to fight the scourge.

1. Project Awakenings

Launched on Dec 3, this project helps the police identify and warn potential victims of investment scams.

Officers submit screenshots of suspicious WhatsApp groups promoting unregulated investment products to the police's Anti-Scam Centre (ASC).

ASC then uses optical character recognition that automates the capturing of local handphone numbers of potential victims in those groups.

Targeted advisories are then sent out to these potential victims using robot process automation.

As at end December last year, more than 1,300 potential victims received the advisory.

2. Scamshield

The app, which was launched in 2020, was developed by the National Crime Prevention Council and the Government Technology Agency (GovTech).

It uses artificial intelligence to identify and filter out scam messages, and also blocks calls from phone numbers previously used in other scam cases or reported by ScamShield users.

As at Jan 31, more than 3.7 million SMSes and calls have been identified as potential scams and more than 15,500 phone numbers have been blocked.

3. E-commerce Transaction Safety Ratings

This report will provide members of the public with an indication of the extent to which different e-commerce marketplaces have put in place anti-scam measures.

More details will be announced later in the year.

4. Working with foreign police forces

In 2021, the Singapore Police Force worked with overseas partners such as the Royal Malaysia Police and Hong Kong Police Force to take down 16 scam syndicates.

More than 230 people, who were responsible for more than 1,350 cases, were arrested.

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