30 August 2019
During the first quarter of 2019, a higher number of people fell prey to scams compared to the early months of 2018. The police firmly believe that this increase has led to a significant rise in crime rate between January and June this year.
Credit-for-sex, loans, internet love scams, and fraudulent e-commerce activities accounted for 80% of the top ten types of scams reported within this period. Generally, the number of cases associated with these four forms of scams rose by about 60%. Additionally, scams involving credit-for-sex and loans, as well as total monetary loss involving these crimes, doubled within the first half of 2019.
In 2018, the scam cases reported between January and June was 315, resulting in losses of $670,000. These cases increased to 692, resulting in a total loss of $2.2 million during the same period in 2019. The highest monetary value cheated in a single case was $82,000. Credit-for-sex also made a comeback with such cases doubling to 456 from 209 cases. Victims of these frauds lost about $1.1 million during the early months of 2019 compared to $464,000 incurred the previous year. Further, the law enforcement department revealed that Alipay and iTunes were commonly used for money transfers among people involved in credit-for-sex activities.
On the other hand, scams involving ecommerce activities and internet love scams have also been increasing. In 2019, the number of ecommerce scam hit 1,435 – the highest number of cases reported among all other forms of scams. The total loss associated with these cases amounted to $1.2 million, with the highest loss in a single case being $43,000.
The police further revealed that about 50 percent of these scams occurred on Carousell, a sharp decrease from the 74% reported within the first six of 2018. The sale of tickets, vehicle rentals, hotel bookings, and sale of electronic items accounted for the highest number of scams on Carousell.
The incidences involving internet love scams increase from 288 within the first six months of 2018 to 306 within the same period in 2019. Victims suffered a total loss of about $17.1 million in 2019 compared to the $11.7 million loss reported in 2018. The highest loss in a single case was approximately $2.4 million.
Other frequently reported scams across the country were related to business email impersonations, lucky draws, China officials impersonations, investment ruses, and immigration or checkpoint authority impersonations. In efforts to fight scams and frauds, the police have created an Anti-Scam Center in accordance with the Commercial Affairs Department to stop and investigate the scammer’s operations.
Most scam crimes are majorly conducted by syndicates based overseas who use various online platforms for their illegal operations. The police promised to continue working with foreign law enforcement agencies to disrupt these activities. They will also continue to work with the National Crime Prevention Council to provide scan prevention guidance.
The public should also exercise caution whenever making transactions online and ensure they are dealing with legitimate vendors to avoid falling victims to fraud and scams. After all, it’s nearly impossible to recover money that has already been paid to scammers.
The number of cases involving molestation on the public transport system dropped by about 9.8%, and the law enforcement authorities associate this with the more public awareness, stepped-up patrols, and the presence of security advisories in trains and buses. But at MRT stations and bus interchanges, the number of molestation cases rose by approximately 26%. Besides, an increase in molestation cases in shopping joints such as malls was reported. Stepping up police patrols in all shopping malls and working with stakeholders to prevent such cases could help. It’s also advisable for people to stay vigilant, especially when in crowded places.