SINGAPORE - Eight people have been arrested after raids on a Malaysia-based cross-border love scam syndicate, which is suspected to have taken more than a million dollars from victims, including some in Singapore.
Malaysian police arrested six Nigerian men and a Malaysian woman in two raids in Kuala Lumpur, while a 57-year-old woman was arrested here, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said on Sunday (June 27).
The 57-year-old woman is suspected to have helped transfer the syndicate's illegal earnings.
The police are also investigating a 34-year-old man in Singapore for similar crimes.
The syndicate was found after a woman in Singapore made a police report saying she had possibly been the target of a love scam.
She said she had been in an online relationship with a man for more than a year and he told her he had sent her a package containing a handbag, shoes and other items.
She then got a phone call from a Malaysian "delivery company", which allegedly asked for a $1,000 charge to be transferred to it.
She made the transfer but the delivery man allegedly told her that he did not receive the money and asked for further payment in cash.
When asked, the deliveryman was unable to provide information on his company.
In a joint investigation with the Commercial Crime Investigation Department of the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP), the SPF found that the syndicate was based there.
This led to the raids in Kuala Lumpur last Wednesday and the arrests of the seven people, aged 20 to 46.
The RMP seized eight laptops, 17 mobile phones, three thumb drives, two ATM cards, two modems, two Wi-Fi routers and two passports during the raids.
The syndicate is believed to be behind at least five other cases in Singapore that resulted in losses of around $64,000 and eight cases in Malaysia that involved RM3.7 million (S$1.2 million).
The woman who was arrested in Singapore will be charged on Tuesday with money laundering.
She faces up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $500,000 if convicted.
Mr David Chew, director of the SPF's Commercial Affairs Department, said: "Notwithstanding the global lockdown in response to the pandemic, criminals continue to prey on the unwary.
"They have ramped up their abuse of the Internet to target victims across international boundaries."
The police said members of the public should be careful when befriending strangers online. "They should also be wary when asked to send money to bank accounts of people whom they do not know."
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline on 1800-722-6688.
Anyone with information on such scams can call the police hotline on 1800-255 0000 or submit information online at this link.