SINGAPORE: In a press statement released on Tuesday (Jan 23), the Singapore Police Force said that over 6,300 people have been victimized in “fake friend” scams from January to November last year. Together, they lost at least S$21.1 million.

Police officers from the two countries have collaborated and shared information on these scams, and last week, carried out a raid on two apartments in Johor. This resulted in five Malaysian men, aged between 19 and 36, getting arrested for their alleged part in the scams.

The SPF included in its press release photos of the five Malaysian men appended in the raid in Johor on Jan 16.

On Jan 16, SPF’s Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and the Johor Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) of the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) carried out a joint operation against a transnational scam syndicate that is said to have conducted fake friend call scams targeting Singaporean victims.

The syndicate was “crippled in a raid conducted in Johor, Malaysia,” the police said.

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Preliminary investigations have shown that their operations began in June 2023. The syndicate is said to be involved in over 500 reports filed with the police, with losses totalling over S$1.4 million.

On Jan 23, the five men were extradited to Singapore and are to be charged in court on Wednesday (Jan 24) for conspiracy to cheat under Section 420, read with Section 120B and Section 108B of the Penal Code 1871.

The offence is punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine.

“The Singapore Police Force has been working closely with the Royal Malaysia Police to detect and cripple these transnational scam syndicates who prey on our citizens.

I would like to thank Johor Police Chief, Commissioner Datuk Kamarul Zaman Mamat and his officers from the Johor Commercial Crime Investigations Department for their strong support and commitment in tackling transnational crime syndicates.

We will continue to take tough action against individuals who perpetuate e scams even if they are based overseas,” said Mr David Chew, Director of the SPF’s Commercial Affairs Department.

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In March last year, the SPF warned of a trend among scammers that involves them pretending to be their victim’s friend and asking for financial assistance through a mobile phone call. At that point, the Police said there had been at least 1,300 victims of this particular scam since the beginning of the year, with total losses of at least $4.33 million.

The Police have called this a variant of the “fake friend” scam, where scammers reach out to victims via WhatsApp messages, texts, or phone or WhatsApp calls and pretend that they are someone that the victim knows. /TISG

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