21 September 2019

In Singapore, police are investing 128 suspects for money mule and scam activities following an operation carried across the island on September 16th and Friday. The operation was a joint effort from seven police divisions and the officers from the CAD (Commercial Affairs Department).

According to the law enforcement authorities, 48 female suspects and 80 male suspects whose ages range from 15 years to 74 years are believed to have been involved in about 260 scam cases involving loans and e-commerce activities.

The police revealed that the overall amount involved in the scams is approximately $231,000 and all the 128 suspects are being investigated for money laundering and cheating. Individuals convicted of cheating will be fined and serve a jail period of up to ten years.

On the other hand, those convicted under the Confiscation of Benefits Act for money laundering will be fined a maximum of $500,000 and get jailed for a maximum of ten years. If you’re found guilty of these crimes, you can either be fined or spent some time in jail and both.

The September 16th probe comes when the instances of cheating and money laundering have become more common. In the first half of 2018 and early months of 2019, the number of financial scams doubled from 315 cases (involving losses amounting to $670,000) to 692 cases with losses of about $2.2 million. The highest amount involved in a single scam case was $82,120.

Additionally, instances of e-commerce scams increased to 1,450 from 1,013. This is the highest number among the instances of scams reported. The total losses associated with these cases rose to $1.2 million, with the highest amount in a single case being $43,000.

Further, the police said that 50 percent of the scam cases occurred in Carousell. Compared to the previous years’ statistics, the rate of scams in this platform has declined from 74%, as reported in the previous year. A larger number of fraudulent transactions on this platform involved tickets, vehicle rentals, electronic items, and hotel bookings. However, there was an increase in the number of scams on other online platforms such as Lazada, Facebook, Shopee, and Instagram.

The police warned internet users and shoppers to beware of e-commerce frauds by curbing their impulsive buying habits, particularly cheap items advertised on various online platforms. All online shoppers should first verify the vendor’s authenticity. The police also warned the public not fall for scammers who use NRIC or local bank account details to convince them.

Finally, consumers must avoid paying for purchases before delivery. They should also decline requests from other people who intend to use their mobile lines and bank accounts. According to the police, your details could be used for illegal transactions.