Online shopping? Better be wary, Singapore recorded 911 e-commerce scams in 2017

Most cases are reportedly coming from customer-to-customer platform Carousell.

As the year has finally come to its holiday and shopping season, authorities have warned Singaporeans who are fond of buying things over the internet. A great number of online scam cases have already been recorded during the first half of 2017.

A total of 911 reported e-commerce frauds have taken place from January to June and most of them happened on Carousell, the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) reveals. In its new information drive, authorities are encouraging online shoppers to take double precaution when making purchases and to guard themselves against malicious cybercriminals.

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The popularity of e-commerce normally skyrockets during the last few months of the year. In 2016, 571 online scams were reported from October to December which is higher as opposed to 499 from July to September and 549 from April to June. In 2015, 663 malicious cases of online scheming were reported from the final quarter, 448 in the third quarter and 566 in the second quarter.

In an effort to avoid these incidents in 2017, NCPC has launched its new crime prevention campaign aiming to help Singaporeans become more informed of the risks, especially when it comes to online shopping.

NCPC chairman Tan Kian said at the campaign launch at Chinatown Point that people tend to be laxer during the festive days of the year since they are busy.

"Today, eight out of 10 Singaporeans access the Internet, spending an average of two hours on social media daily. We also spend more time buying things online," says Tan. "But technology is a double-edged sword, bringing about both convenience and threats."

Tan stressed that a total of S$690,000 have already been lost to online shopping scams in the first six months of 2017.

As part of the campaign, street actors will be deployed around Singapore starting December 9 to play as scammers in hopes to teach passersby how to spot online frauds. Police will also be deploying more officers around the city-state, both in uniform and in plainclothes.