Overall crime rate in Singapore up 6.7% in the first half of 2015

Cheating involving e-commerce and scams such as 'credit-for-sex' and 'Internet love' were the main commercial crime categories that saw a spike.
Cheating involving e-commerce and scams such as 'credit-for-sex' and 'Internet love' were the main commercial crime categories that saw a spike. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE

SINGAPORE - The overall crime rate in Singapore has risen this year, largely fuelled by a significant increase in the number of commercial crime cases.

According to the mid-year crime statistics released by the police on Monday (Aug 24), a total of 16,575 cases were recorded between January and June this year, 6.7 per cent more than that of the same period last year.

In particular, the number of commercial crimes increased by 55.3 per cent - 3,893 such cases were recorded in the first half of this year, up from 2,506 in the same period last year.

Among commercial crimes, cheating involving e-commerce and scams such as "credit-for-sex" and "Internet love" were the main categories which saw a spike.

For example, 627 cases were related to "credit-for-sex", a new scam that emerged in the second half of last year. Culprits would use mobile messaging platforms to ask their victims to purchase gift cards or virtual credit in exchange for escort or sexual services.

Police commercial affairs department director David Chew said that the growing trend of online crime is a cause for concern and the police will continue to expand their outreach efforts to educate people about online scams.

"While the police will do all it can to investigate, deter and disrupt the activities of these criminals, the public has an important role to play," he said. "Online transactions may be convenient, but the public should always be alert and exercise due diligence when engaging in online transactions to avoid falling victim to scammers."

But it was not all bad news. Fewer crimes of other categories, such as housebreaking and theft, were committed in the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year.

The number of cases related to unlicensed moneylending and harassment fell by about 25 per cent, while that of cyber-extortion cases plunged by about 73 per cent. Outrage of modesty cases also dipped by about 5 per cent.

The youth crime situation has also improved, with fewer young people being arrested for crime.

Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Tan Hung Hooi said: "Singapore remains a safe place to live and work in. The police will work hand in hand with the community and key stakeholders to ensure that Singapore continues to be a safe home for everyone."