SINGAPORE: Six men were arrested in Malaysia for their suspected involvement in Internet love scams following a joint investigation by Singapore’s Commercial Affairs Department and Malaysia’s Commercial Crime Investigation Department.
They are believed to be part of two transnational syndicates responsible for at least 10 cases in Singapore, involving more than S$310,000, said the Singapore Police Force (SPF) in a news release on Saturday (Apr 30).
Between Mar 22 and Apr 7 this year, the police received reports from two 46-year-old women who said they had fallen prey to Internet love scams.
The first victim met a man on a dating application in March 2021 and developed a relationship with him, said the police.
He claimed to be a US citizen and that he was working in Singapore as a petroleum engineer. The man told the victim he needed money to pay for equipment and custom clearance fees as his bank account was frozen.
The victim transferred a total of S$15,000 to a bank account provided by the man. After these transfers were made, the man purportedly asked for more money and the victim realised it was a scam.
The second victim also met a man on a dating application in February this year. He claimed he was a geologist and was going to visit the victim in Singapore.
On Mar 6, he purportedly asked the victim for S$20,000 to pay for his expenses in Singapore and she transferred the money.
On Mar 20, he asked for another S$20,000, but the victim refused to provide the money. He kept asking for money and the victim “later felt suspicious” and reported the incident to the police.
Joint investigations between the Singapore and Malaysia police forces established that the syndicates suspected to be behind the cases were based in Malaysia.
On Apr 22 and Apr 23, officers from both forces conducted raids at two apartments in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
Six men from Nigeria were arrested in Malaysia for their suspected involvement in Internet love scams.
During the raids, laptops, mobile phones and credit cards were seized. The Singapore team in Malaysia also discovered several Singapore mobile numbers and bank accounts in the electronic devices.
Anti-scam officers in Singapore conducted interventions to prevent potential victims from falling prey to the scam and managed to “avert further losses for three victims”.
The two syndicates are believed to be responsible for at least 10 cases in Singapore involving more than S$310,000.
Director of the Commercial Affairs Department David Chew said: “These syndicates often make use of Singapore bank accounts to launder their illicit proceeds. We will deal hard blows to the syndicate by conducting prompt investigations to deprive them of their criminal proceeds.”
He thanked his Malaysian counterparts for their “strong support and leadership”.
SPF said this was the first successful joint collaboration between both police forces in dismantling Internet love scam syndicates this year.
“In such scams, fraudsters would cultivate online relationships with victims, and then ask for money from the victims to pay fines and fees after falsely claiming that they were detained by government authorities, or that their gift parcels meant for victims are withheld at customs, and money was needed to pay for the fines,” said SPF.
“In most cases, the fraudsters posed as successful or attractive individuals.”