Officers from Commercial Affairs Department and seven police land divisions have jointly conducted an island-wide operation to track down the scammers in Singapore and arrested a total of 73 suspects, allegedly involved in such offences.
During this three-day enforcement operation, which was conducted between April 2 and 4, the offices arrested 45 men and 28 women, aged between 15 and 66. These alleged offenders are currently assisting in investigations for their suspected involvement in scams.
A news release, published by Singapore Police Force (SPF), stated that these arrested suspects are believed to be involved in 188 cases of scams, which mainly involves e-commerce scams, where victims have lost more than $107,000. It also added that the alleged scammers are being investigated for cheating or money laundering.
As per the Singapore Penal Code, whoever dishonestly misappropriates or converts to his own use movable property, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both. In the case of cheating, the punishment will be a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment, including a fine.
There are four money laundering offences in Singapore law and these are governed under Corruption, Drug, Trafficking and other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (CDSA). AS per CDSA, it is an offence to do any of these following:
- conceal or disguise any property (or its nature, source, location, disposition, movement or ownership) which, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, represents a criminals' benefits from criminal conduct;
- convert or transfer that property or remove it from the jurisdiction; and
- acquire, possess or use that property.
The law stated that the punishment for any of these offences is up to 10 years' imprisonment and/or a fine of up to S$500,000. If the offender is a company, the maximum fine is S$1,000,000.00.
SPF asked the members of the public to follow a few measures to avoid falling victim to online purchase scams:
- Don't be impulsive – Be wary of online advertisements of items at cheap prices that sound too good to be true! Do not buy on impulse. Read the reviews of the seller before committing to a purchase.
- Don't believe – Scammers may use a local bank account or provide a copy of an NRIC/driver's licence to make you believe that they are genuine sellers. Do not fall for it!
- Don't give – As you are dealing with strangers, avoid making payments or deposits in advance. Try to use shopping platforms/arrangements that release your payment to the seller only upon receipt of the item. Alternatively, arrange to meet the seller and pay only on delivery.
They also added that people "should always reject requests by others to use your bank account or mobile lines as you will be held accountable if these accounts are linked to illegal transactions."
If anyone wants to inform the police about a scam then they are asked to contact the police through the hotline number 1800-255-0000 or can submit the information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.