The Singapore police have arrested 35 people — 29 men and six women aged between 16 and 66 — during four days of raids against scams between March 22 and 25.
Officers from the Commercial Affairs Department and the seven police land divisions carried out the arrests, SPF said in a news release on Sunday, March 27.
A total of 255 individuals are currently assisting with investigations for their suspected involvement in more than 1,200 cases involving more than S$31 million, the police said.
SPF’s Anti-Scam Centre (ASC) together with five banks — DBS, UOB, OCBC, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank — intervened in more than 150 cases of investment and job scams.
Sold Singpass details to scammers
Some of the 255 assisting with investigations allegedly sold their Singpass details to scammers.
This allowed scammers to gain unauthorised access to digital services under the individuals’ names.
Scammers could then register businesses and open bank or crypto-exchange accounts, for the purpose of receiving illegal proceeds from scam victims, the police said.
Singpass details were also misused to subscribe to new mobile lines to communicate with victims in some instances.
Offences being investigated include cheating, money laundering, facilitating unauthorised access to computer material, and carrying on the business of a payment service without licence.
The police urged members of the public to always reject requests for their personal bank accounts to be used to receive and transfer money for others, so as to avoid becoming involved in money laundering activities.
The police also cautioned people against relinquishing their own Singpass accounts to others.
They noted that crime syndicates can use Singpass login details to access digital services ranging from registering businesses in the owner’s name to obtaining cash advances from banks, and even accessing money in the owner’s Central Provident Fund (CPF) account.
How investment scams work
In investment scams, the scammers would claim to be financial professionals and cultivate victims via social media platforms.
The victims would be introduced to “investment experts” who claim to be sharing “sure-win tips”.
Victims would transfer their money to bank accounts once enticed by the promise of easy earnings.
Victims would earn a small profit from at the initial stage, and believe the investment works.
The victims may be asked to pay administrative fees, legal fees or taxes in order to encash their profits.
Once these sums were deposited into designated bank accounts, the scammers would then become uncontactable.
How job scams work
For jobs scams, victims would respond to job advertisements for quick cash on social media platforms and chat applications, and told to order items from online platforms, purportedly to boost sales figures, progressing from lower-cost items to more expensive items.
The victims would make funds transfers to bank accounts as payment and would initially be reimbursed the full amount together with a commission.
Victims would then end up transferring large sums of money for their orders.
The scammers would become uncontactable.
Those scammed didn’t even know they were scammed
The police worked with the banks to conduct live interventions by analysing the fund flow of bank accounts, which were surfaced in scam reports.
The police then worked to engage unsuspecting victims who had been transferring monies to the bank accounts used by scammers.
The victims were informed that that they could have fallen prey to scams and were advised to stop any further monetary transfers.
The police said many of the victims were “completely unaware” that they had been scammed prior to being contacted by the police.
Those who facilitate unauthorised access to computer material face up to two years in prison, or a fine, or both.
Those who disclose access codes without authorisation for any wrongful gain or unlawful purpose face up to three years in prison, or a fine, or both.
The offence of cheating carries a penalty of up to three years’ imprisonment and a fine.
The offence of carrying on an unlicensed business of providing payment services is punishable by up to three years in prison, a fine of up to S$125,000, or both.
Those found guilty of money laundering can be jailed up to 10 years and fined up to S$500,000.
Top photo via Singapore Police Force
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