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SPF: Singapore’s crime rate highest in 9 years; online scams up by 54%

The police noted that e-commerce scams, loan scams and credit-for-sex scams were the highest at 60 percent, the biggest percentage in 2019

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SINGAPORE — The crime rate in Singapore in 2019 is at its highest since 2010. While other types of crimes decreased, online scams increased by 54.2 percent from 2018.

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) released the Annual Crime Brief 2019 on Wednesday (Feb 5). Overall, the country’s crime rate increased, primarily due to a significant increase in scam cases.

In 2019, the total number of reported crimes countrywide was 35,209 cases, up by 6.3 percent from 33,126 cases in 2018. Singapore’s overall crime rate for 2019 was recorded  as 617 cases per 100,000 people, up from 587 cases per 100,000 population the previous year.

Last year was Singapore’s highest year of crime in nearly 20 years. In 2010, the country’s crime rate was 653 cases per 100,000 population.

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According to the SPF, Singapore’s overall crime rate last year would have dropped, if it were not for crimes like e-commerce scams, loan scams and credit-for-sex scams, which went up 54.2 percent from 2018’s numbers (3,661 cases in 2018 and 5,646 cases in 2019).

crime classes 2019
Infographic: Singapore’s 2019 crime rates per category/SPF

A total of 9,502 scams were reported in 2019, a 53.5 percent increase from the 6,189 cases in 201, said the police. Scams made up for 27 percent of reported crimes in 2019, up from 19 percent the year before.

Despite the jump in scams, the SPF said that crimes of other natures decreased “significantly” in 2019, such as crimes against persons, violent or serious property crimes, housebreaking and related crimes, as well as theft and related crimes.

Without the scam cases, the total number of reported crimes for 2019 would have gone down by 4.6 percent to 25,707 cases, from 26,937 cases in 2018.

The SPF listed 10 types of scam crimes they came across in 2019: e-commerce scams, loan scams, credit-for-sex scams, social media impersonation scams, internet love scams, investment scams, China officials impersonation scams, business email impersonation scams, lucky draw scams and tech support scams.

In its annual crime brief, the SPF released this chart on the different types of scam crimes and their facts and figures:

Infographic: Scam crimes in Singapore in 2019/SPF

Out of these, the police noted that e-commerce scams, loan scams and credit-for-sex scams are the most concerning as they make up 60 percent—the biggest percentage—of all scams in 2019.

Infographic: Scam crimes in Singapore in 2019/SPF

Regarding scams, the SPF advised vigilance and preparation. While it will continue to educate the public on scams through online campaigns, roadshows and community volunteers, it emphasised that family and friends can help educate each other and prevent  “someone they know from falling victim to crime and prevent losses”.

National Crime Prevention Council chairman Gerald Singham noted that scammers are not picky when it comes to victims’ ages—no one is safe, especially seniors who might be less “skeptical” and “questioning” when scammers call.

The top five digital platforms used by e-commerce scammers in 2019 were: Carousell (44.1 percent of scams with 1,239 cases), Facebook (21.4 percent of scams with 602 cases), Shopee (9.9 percent of scams with 279 cases), Lazada (7 percent of scams with 197 cases) and Instagram (3.7 percent with 103 cases).

“Scams remain a major concern. Many scammers are taking advantage of the anonymity of the Internet and social media to threaten and target unsuspecting victims.

“Cyber-enabled scams are a global phenomenon. Many of these scams originate from foreign jurisdictions and we see a lot of the victims’ monies leaving Singapore. The Police will continue to collaborate with our foreign counterparts to pursue the scammers and the monies,” said David Chew, Director of Commercial Affairs Department of the SPF.

Mr Chew also reminded the public to “play their part”—to be aware of the latest scam tactics and to always exercise vigilance. /TISG

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