PARLIAMENT

Scam cases nearly double as $157m lost in first 8 months

10,402 cases reported; top 3 such crimes are e-commerce scams, social media impersonation scams and loan scams

More people have been tricked by scammers in the first eight months of this year compared with the same period last year, with victims losing $157 million from the 10,402 scam cases reported in this period.

These figures were almost double those of last year, when 5,229 victims lost $92 million in the same period.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan gave these updated figures yesterday, in response to a question from Mr Ang Wei Neng (West Coast GRC) on the scam situation here.

Mr Tan said the police have stepped up efforts to fight the growing scourge of scams, such as through increased collaboration with foreign law enforcement agencies and setting up specialised units in the police force to combat scams.

For example, the police's Anti-Scam Centre was set up in June last year and acts as a "nerve centre" for investigating scam-related crimes. In its first year of operation, it has frozen more than 6,100 bank accounts and recovered more than $21 million, added Mr Tan.

The E-commerce Fraud Enforcement and Coordination Team in the police force has also arrested 101 e-commerce scammers and solved about 2,000 e-commerce scams since its formation in November 2018, he said.

E-commerce scams are the most common scam crimes reported, followed by social media impersonation scams and loan scams, said Mr Tan. E-commerce scams typically involve fraudulent transactions in the e-commerce field.

In social media impersonation scams, fraudsters often pose as friends or followers of their victims to trick them into allowing the scammers access to their personal accounts. They then siphon money out of these accounts.

Loan scams usually involve scammers who pretend to be licensed moneylenders and request deposits from their victims before the loan can be disbursed. They then disappear once the deposits have been received.

Mr Ang said he often receives messages offering him personal loans from moneylenders, and he has also received fraudulent phone calls from scammers who tell him that he has a parcel stuck at Customs.

He suggested having a website for Singaporeans to send the details of such fraudulent calls or messages to the police.

  • 101

    Number of e-commerce scammers arrested by the E-commerce Fraud Enforcement and Coordination Team in the police force since its formation in November 2018.

    $21m

    Amount police's Anti-Scam Centre, set up in June last year, recovered in its first year of operation.

In response, Mr Tan said the scamalert.sg site allows Singaporeans to share their experiences on the site.

"Today the police work closely with the community to highlight what are the top five crimes in the community; scams are obviously one of those that are increasing in trend, so we will take your suggestions in mind," said Mr Tan.

Responding to Ms Poh Li San (Sembawang GRC) on strategies to protect seniors from Internet scams, he noted that the police have also taken a more targeted approach in their public education efforts and will focus on those vulnerable to scams.

For example, the police work with the Infocomm Media Development Authority in its Seniors Go Digital programme, to help highlight to seniors the risks and threats that could come their way, he said.

"We will continue to make sure that our seniors are protected in this new cyberspace," said Mr Tan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2020, with the headline 'Scam cases nearly double as $157m lost in first 8 months'. Subscribe