SINGAPORE: Among the 316 people being investigated by the police for their suspected involvement in scams is a 15-year-old teenager.
During a two-week operation between Nov 10 and Nov 23, 229 men and 87 women aged between 15 and 73 were taken in for investigations. They were involved in more than 1,100 scams as either scammers or money mules. In a statement on Friday (Nov 24), the police said that the scams included job scams, malware-enabled scams, phishing scams, Internet love scams and e-commerce scams and involved losses of more than S$8.5 million.
The suspects are being investigated for the alleged offences of cheating, money laundering or providing payment services without a licence. The offence of cheating carries a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine. Those convicted of money laundering can be jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to S$500,000, or both. Those convicted of carrying out unlicensed payment services can be jailed for up to three years, fined up to S$125,000, or both.
In a statement on Nov 23, the police arrested four people aged between 20 and 50 on suspicion of acting as money mules. They were allegedly involved in various scams, including lottery scams and impersonation ruses, where they posed as government officials or friends of victims. All four allegedly gave their Singpass credentials to criminal syndicates to open new bank accounts, said the police. Three of them had allegedly sold their Singpass credentials to these syndicates for between $600 and $3,000. Of the four, two men aged 33 and 50 had purportedly cheated banks into opening bank accounts before handing over the ATM cards and iBanking credentials to the criminal syndicates.
On Nov 22, the police also said in another statement that at least 93 people had fallen for a scam involving fake WhatsApp Web pages since the start of November, with total losses amounting to $176,000. The 93 are among at least 237 victims who fell for social media impersonation scams in general in the same month, with losses totalling at least $606,000. In these cases involving fake WhatsApp Web pages, scammers first gained control of compromised WhatsApp accounts after users clicked on unverified URL links while searching for the official WhatsApp Web page. Impersonating the original account user, scammers then contact the user’s family or friends on the account’s contact list to ask for loans.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800-722-6688. /TISG