Amid a rise in loan scams targeting the elderly, an anti-scamming programme for seniors was launched by the Singapore Police Force yesterday.
Figures from the police showed that elderly persons were cheated of $88,000 in loan scams between January and September this year, a huge jump from the $4,700 that seniors lost to such scams during the same period last year.
Between January and September last year, there were 294 loan scams reported, with seven cases involving elderly victims aged 65 and older. During the same period this year, 713 loan scams were reported, with 22 involving seniors.
The victims typically get SMS or WhatsApp messages offering loan services and are instructed later to transfer money as a deposit before the loan can be disbursed.
On a brighter note, the amount of money lost to Internet love scams involving the elderly fell from $9.6 million in the first nine months last year to $860,000 in the same period this year.
Toa Payoh Neighbourhood Police Centre introduced the anti-scamming programme called Elderly Citizens Helping Others against Scams (Echo against Scams) this weekend.
Anti-scam ambassadors - seniors who can converse in dialect and share information on scams with fellow elderly residents - have been recruited from Toa Payoh, Potong Pasir and Joo Seng.
Thirty-two such ambassadors were appointed yesterday at the inaugural Police Community Roadshow at Toa Payoh HDB Hub. Two more roadshows will be held during the coming weekends at Bedok and Jurong East. The events aim to build stronger ties with the public and foster greater awareness of policing work, the police said.
The guest of honour yesterday, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo, noted that Toa Payoh has a large population of seniors. "As more of them are trying their hand at technology such as smartphones and social media, more has to be done to make sure they don't fall prey to online scams."