Police probing 312 people over alleged links to scams where victims lost over $7 million

The scams comprised mainly Internet love, e-commerce, investment, official impersonation, tech support, job and loan types. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More than 300 people are being investigated for their alleged involvement in scams where victims lost more than $7.1 million, the police said on Friday (Sept 10).

This follows an islandwide operation conducted between Aug 28 and Sept 9 by the Commercial Affairs Department and seven police land divisions.

The scams, which total more than 873, comprised mainly Internet love, e-commerce, investment, official impersonation, tech support, job and loan types.

The police are investigating the 312 individuals - 218 men and 94 women, aged between 16 and 71 - for the offences of cheating, money laundering or providing payment services without a licence.

Those found guilty of cheating under Section 420 of the Penal Code can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

Individuals convicted of money laundering under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act can be imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined up to $500,000.

Those convicted of carrying on a business of providing any type of payment service in Singapore without a licence under the Payment Services Act 2019 can be jailed for up to three years or fined up to $125,000, or both.

Police have reminded members of the public to always reject requests to use their bank accounts or mobile lines, as they will be held accountable if these are linked to illegal transactions.

Scam victims lost $168 million to conmen in the top 10 scam categories in the first six months of this year, a sharp spike from $63.5 million in the same period last year.

The top 10 scams include those on loan, e-commerce and investment.

This comes on the back of a 16 per cent rise in the number of reported scam cases and a 11.2 per cent hike in overall crime, according to mid-year statistics released by the police. Scam cases climbed from 7,247 to 8,403.

"Scammers are constantly evolving their tactics and have been taking advantage of the Covid-19 situation to prey on victims' heightened vulnerability and sense of uncertainty," said the police.

For more information on scams, members of the public can visit Scam Alert's website or call the anti-scam hotline on 1800-722-6688.

Anyone with information on scams can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit information at the Singapore Police Force's website.

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