SINGAPORE - The police said on Friday (Nov 8) that they are investigating 278 scam cases, mainly involving online purchases, which cheated victims of more than $247,000.
In a separate statement, the police said that between January and September, they also received at least 192 reports of scams involving fake lucky draws by online shopping sites Lazada and Shopee. Victims were cheated of at least $194,000.
For the $247,000 case, police said that a two-week operation was conducted between Oct 29 and Nov 7 by the Commercial Affairs Department and seven police divisions.
A total of 140 scammers and money mules were rounded up - 80 men and 60 women aged between 14 and 70 - and are assisting with further investigations for their suspected involvement in the cheating or money laundering.
In the Lazada and Shopee lucky draw scams, victims were contacted by scammers impersonating their friends or followers on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
The impersonators would ask victims for their contact numbers and pictures of their credit or debit cards on the pretence of signing them up for lucky draws conducted by Lazada and Shopee.
The victims were also told to share the one-time passwords that they received. They later realised that they had been cheated after discovering unauthorised transactions made on their accounts.
The police also verified that there were no such lucky draws conducted by Lazada and Shopee.
Those found guilty of cheating can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined. Similarly, those found guilty of money laundering can be jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to $500,000, or both.
To avoid being scammed, members of the public should be wary of online advertisements that seem too good to be true, and not be impulsive, the police said.
Buyers should also arrange to meet the seller and pay on delivery, instead of paying in advance.
The police also warned that scammers may use local bank accounts and provide identification to make them seem genuine.
Buyers are also warned against transferring money or giving out personal information, bank account details, credit or debit card details, and one-time passwords to anyone, including family and friends.
To avoid being made an accomplice to scams, members of the public should not let others use their bank accounts or mobile lines as they will be held accountable if their accounts are linked to illegal transactions, the police said.
Those with information related to such scams can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit a form online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness
They can also call the anti-scam helpline on 1800-722-6688.
For more information on scams, visit www.scamalert.sg