Overall crime up by 3.2% in first half of 2018; spike in impersonation cases and loan, e-commerce scams

The number of e-commerce cheating cases went up by 58 per cent.
The number of e-commerce cheating cases went up by 58 per cent. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

SINGAPORE - Overall crime went up by 3.2 per cent in the first half of this year, largely due to a sharp spike in the number of loan scams, e-commerce scams and "Chinese officials" impersonation scams.

Outrage of modesty cases, including those which happened on public transport, also went up. But Internet love scam cases went down for the first time in five years.

Overall, a total of 16,460 cases were reported between January and June, up from 15,949 cases in the same period last year, according to mid-year crime statistics released by the police on Thursday (Aug 23).

In particular, there was a 213.8 per cent jump in the number of cases where scammers claiming to be officials from China demanded money from the victims. In some cases, victims were told they were implicated in money laundering cases and were asked to provide bank account details over the phone for investigations.

There were 182 such cases in the first half of this year, up from 58 cases in the same period last year.

The total amount cheated increased by 233.3 per cent to about $6 million, from about $1.8 million. The largest amount cheated in a single case was about $650,000.

The number of e-commerce cheating cases went up by 58 per cent. There were 1,277 cases in the first half of this year, up from 808 cases. Victims were cheated of some $930,000.

 
 
 

About 80 per cent of all e-commerce scams take place on the popular online selling platform Carousell, said the police.

E-commerce scams are particularly challenging to solve, as the main perpetrators are foreign scam syndicates who can hide under the anonymity of the Internet, said Assistant Superintendent of Police Stanley Qiu, officer-in-charge of the Bedok Police Division's commercial crime squad.

The syndicates recruit locals to provide their local bank account details, and then scam local buyers into buying an item off the platform. They then disappear once they receive the money, which is remitted to them by their local helpers, said ASP Qiu.

Loan scams also went up by 92.6 per cent, from 189 to 364 cases.

The total amount cheated increased by 192 per cent to about $730,000, from about $250,000 in the same period last year. The largest amount cheated in a single case was about $90,000.

Besides scam cases, outrage of modesty cases also went up by 21.5 per cent to 832 cases, from 685 cases.

In particular, the number of such incidents reported at public entertainment nightspots and on public transport were key concerns, said police.

There were 63 such cases reported at public entertainment nightspots, a 37 per cent increase from the same period last year.

Such cases happening on public transport saw a 43.8 per cent increase to 105.

"The Police is closely monitoring the increase in outrage of modesty cases. We will continue to step up our efforts to work closely with stakeholders and the community to prevent and deter such cases, especially in public entertainment night spots and public transport networks," said Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police How Kwang Hwee, who is director of operations department. "Offenders will be dealt with severely in accordance with the law."

Meanwhile, the number of Internet love scam cases went down for the first time in five years. Only 280 cases were reported in the first half of the year, down from 344 in the same time period last year.