SINGAPORE - A small group of employees from six leading banks in Singapore now operate from the police’s new Anti-Scam Command office to help the police tackle scam incidents efficiently.
These employees from DBS Bank, OCBC, UOB, Standard Chartered, HSBC and CIMB have been helping to trace the flow of funds, and freezing bank accounts involved in scammers’ operations at the new office at the Police Cantonment Complex in New Bridge Road since July 25.
Speaking to the media at the opening of the Anti-Scam Command office on Tuesday, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Aileen Yap, the Anti-Scam Command assistant director, said speed is important when dealing with scams.
She added: “When there is a live scam case happening, we can now very quickly go to the bank staff located in the office and with their help, carry out very swift interventions.”
The opening was attended by Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo, who is also Second Minister for Home Affairs, and Minister of State for Home Affairs Sun Xueling.
The police said that since the bank employees’ deployment to the Anti-Scam Command office, more than $1.5 million lost in more than 40 separate scam cases have been recovered.
The amount retrieved made up more than 60 per cent of the money lost in these cases.
The police said having bank employees working at the Anti-Scam Command is a major move forward in its scam-fighting efforts.
DBS was the first to send an employee to work with officers at the Anti-Scam Centre in 2019. The bank now has two employees stationed at the Anti-Scam Command.
Mr Elvin Lim, group head of investigations at DBS Bank, said: “Our long-standing collaboration (with the police) and belief in the effectiveness of co-locating of bank staff to aid in fund tracing and recovery has resulted in several successful and timely customer interventions, as well as breakthroughs in enforcement action undertaken by the police.”
Mr Beaver Chua, head of anti-fraud at OCBC Bank’s Group Financial Crime Compliance department, said: “Having someone stationed on site at the Anti-Scam Command allows us to identify and freeze or block fraudulent transactions and compromised accounts even more quickly.
“When a scam is detected, time is of the essence to stop fraudulent funds flows and trace them to afford a higher chance of recovering the scammed funds.”
Staff from the Government Technology Agency, or GovTech, are also deployed at the Anti-Scam Command to support police investigations in Singpass-related scams.
“This facilitates faster sharing of information required for investigations and enables the police to leverage Singpass fraud analytics capabilities that identify and flag unusual account activities,” said the police.
The Anti-Scam Centre was set up as a specialised unit under the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) in 2019.
Last year, the Anti-Scam Division was formed, reorganising and consolidating all scam-fighting units under the CAD.
The division was expanded in March to become the Anti-Scam Command, bringing together all scam-fighting units across the entire Singapore Police Force.
Individuals who facilitate scam-related activities, such as money mules who help in bank transfers and disclose Singpass and bank credentials to scammers, are also targeted by the Anti-Scam Command, said the police.
More than 60 money mules were charged in the last five months, since the command was set up.
The Anti-Scam Command has also issued warnings to more than 95,000 individuals, including potential scam victims and those who may have received scam advertisements or messages.
Since March, it has coordinated 12 operations, which led to the arrest of more than 3,900 scammers and money mules.
According to the mid-year crime statistics released by the police last month, a total of $227.8 million was lost to the top 10 scam types in the first half of this year.
More than 14,300 scam cases were reported so far this year, almost double the 7,746 cases reported in the same period last year.