Rise in online scams, new drug abusers

MHA flags cheating involving e-commerce, love scams, impersonation of China officials

Internet scams and new drug abusers continued a rising trend last year, although the overall crime and drug situation remains stable, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) yesterday.

The ministry's statement comes as various Home Team agencies are expected to issue their annual statistics from tomorrow.

While the number of commercial crimes dropped slightly last year, cheating involving e-commerce, Internet love scams, and the impersonation of China officials continue to be areas of "significant concern", said MHA.

There was a sharp rise in online commercial crimes in 2015. Internet love scams, which involve offenders befriending victims online before cheating them of money, rose from 198 cases in 2014 to 385 cases in 2015.

Meanwhile, scams involving the impersonation of China officials rose from 179 cases in the first half of last year to 249 cases from July to September last year. One victim lost $2.38 million, the police said earlier.

More new drug abusers were also nabbed last year, said MHA. There were 1,309 new abusers arrested in 2015, compared with 1,093 in 2014.

Nearly two-thirds of new abusers caught last year were aged below 30, compared with 69 per cent in 2015.

There were also more fatal accidents involving elderly pedestrians last year. There were 24 such cases in 2015, up from 17 cases in 2013.

But there were fewer violent or serious property crimes, housebreaking cases, as well as theft and related crimes last year, said MHA.

In 2015, there were 299 violent or serious property crimes, down from 535 in 2014. The number of housebreaking and related crimes had also dropped, from 360 cases in 2014 to 340 cases in 2015. Theft and related crimes also fell, from 16,722 cases in 2014 to 15,615 cases in 2015.

Meanwhile, there were fewer fatal traffic accidents last year.

The number of immigration offenders arrested has also remained low, and the number caught for harbouring and employing these offenders has dropped, said MHA.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2017, with the headline 'Rise in online scams, new drug abusers'. Print Edition | Subscribe