Internet love scam ring busted in joint police ops

A Malaysia-based transnational Internet love scam syndicate has been busted by police from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Macau in a joint operation, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said yesterday. The syndicate is believed to be behind at least 139 cases of Internet love scams in the four jurisdictions, with victims losing about $5.8 million.

The operation involved officers from SPF's Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), the Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) of the Royal Malaysia Police, the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau of the Hong Kong Police Force and the Information Technology Crimes Division of the Macau Judiciary Police.

Officers from these four agencies started sharing intelligence in January after Internet love scams were reported in Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau. Between Nov 19 and Nov 21, the Royal Malaysia Police conducted simultaneous raids across several locations in the country and arrested three Nigerian men, 11 Malaysian women and four Malaysian men suspected to be involved in the syndicate.

In Singapore, CAD investigated four Singaporean women, aged between 28 and 67, for allegedly facilitating the transfer of criminal proceeds to the syndicate.

A total of 30 cases involving losses of over $262,000 in Singapore were solved, police said.

CAD director David Chew thanked Royal Malaysia Police's CCID director, Commissioner Mohd Zakaria Ahmad, and his officers for leading the main arrest operations in Malaysia.

"The success of this joint operation demonstrates the common resolve of the SPF and its regional partners to fight transnational fraud, and sends a strong signal to cross-border scam syndicates that we will dismantle their networks and arrest their members, wherever they may be hiding," said Mr Chew.

The police advised the public to remain alert when communicating with strangers online or sending money to bank accounts of strangers or those who claimed to be government officials.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2019, with the headline 'Internet love scam ring busted in joint police ops'. Subscribe