SINGAPORE: In Singapore news today, Mr Jürgen Stock, the secretary-general of Interpol, said on Mar 27 (Wednesday) that organised crime rings around the globe are now able to make as much as US$3 trillion (S$4.04 trillion) a year, what with an “explosion” of cyber-crime having emerged over the past few years.

He zeroed in on cyber scam centers, a practice that began in Southeast Asia where people are offered a job online and victims find themselves having their passports taken from them and working in such a center that carries out online scams.

“Driven by online anonymity, inspired by new business models, and accelerated by COVID, these organized crime groups are now working at a scale that was unimaginable a decade ago.

“What began as a regional crime threat in Southeast Asia has become a global human trafficking crisis with millions of victims,” Mr Stock told members of the media at a briefing at Interpol’s Singapore office on Wednesday.

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He also lauded Singapore’s endeavors to fight scams, singling out the Singapore Police Force’s Anti-Scam Centre, and saying that this could serve as an example for Interpol’s member countries.

“The Anti-Scam Centre here in Singapore is, for me, a best-practice example of collaboration in real time, desk by desk, between (the) private sector and law enforcement,” said the Interpol chief.

While cyberscam centres have grown exponentially over the past few years, it is still drug trafficking businesses that make up 40 percent to 70 per cent of the income of criminal groups, he added.

However, these groups have “clearly” diversified their activities by using drug trafficking routes to traffic human beings, weapons, intellectual property, stolen products, and car theft.

An astounding US$2 trillion (S$2.7 trillion) to US$3 trillion worth of illegal proceeds each year get channeled into the global financial system, with Mr Stock noting, “This gives an idea about the dimension of what organised crime groups are able to gain with their criminal activity.”

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At present, only two to three per cent of criminal assets are being tracked and seized by the authorities, which means an eye-watering 97 per cent of illicit proceeds stay in the possession of criminals and are invested back into illegal activities.

In October, it was reported that Singaporeans are the hardest hit by global scams, losing more than US$4,000 per victim. The Global State of Scams 2023, was released by the Global Anti-Scam Alliance (GASA), ScamAdviser.com, and academics from the Netherlands’ University of Twente, said that US$1.02 trillion (S$1.4 trillion) is lost annually around the globe through scams, with one out of every four persons getting victimized. This is equivalent to 1.05 per cent of the global GDP. /TISG

Read also: Singaporeans Hit Hardest by Global Scams, Losing Over US$4,000 Per Victim