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MHA COS 2023: Combatting Scams and Safeguarding Singapore, Together

Key takeaways from the COS speech by MOS Sun Xueling.
COS MOS Sun Xueling Article Cover-A
GRAPHIC: Joash Tan

In Parliament on 27 February, Minister of State Sun Xueling outlined how the Home Team will combat scams and safeguard Singapore at the Committee of Supply (COS)  Debate. 

Here are the key points from MOS Sun Xueling’s speech.

Protecting Citizens Against Scams
With scams increasingly driving up crime rate over the last few years, the Home Team will take a multi-layered approach by i) blocking scammers; ii) secure government and banking channels, iii) strengthen enforcement; and iv) toughen our laws. 

i) Block Scammers 
The Home Team has established partnerships with various public and private organisations to leverage technology to block scam calls, SMSes, online listings and websites.

ii) Secure Legitimate Services
The Home Team works closely with stakeholders to secure government service and banking channels to prevent scammers from exploiting system vulnerabilities. The Singapore Police Force (SPF) has deepened partnership with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and local banks in Singapore on various measures such as removing clickable links from official emails and SMSes; setting lower default transaction limits; an emergency self-service “kill switch” to allow accounts to be suspended quickly if compromised; and a “money lock” solution to “lock up” a designated sum in their bank accounts to reduce the amount that could be lost to scammers.

iii) Strengthen Enforcement 
SPF has strengthened enforcement capabilities. To consolidate expertise in combatting scams, the Anti-Scam Command (ASC) was formed in 2022. SPF will work closely with foreign counterparts to conduct joint operations.

iv) Strengthen Legislative Levers
Laws will be tightened against those who facilitate the movement of scam monies. MHA will amend the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, to prescribe conduct to target money mules, of which the investigation into majority of money mules do not currently result in prosecution.

Activating Every Citizen to ACT Against Scams
Public education for a vigilant and discerning public is the best defence against scams. The Home Team will empower individuals to take actions to protect their loved ones and themselves in the fight against scams.

The measures include:
a. The new national anti-scam campaign “I can ACT against scams” launched in January 2023 to translate awareness to action with the acronym ACT which stands for “Adding” security features; “Checking” for scam signs and verifying with official sources; and “Telling” authorities, family and friends about scams.

b. Launch of the Scam Public Education Office (SPEO) in the later part of 2023 to expand outreach to customise crime prevention engagement efforts and tailor suitable interventions for different population segments.

c. Empowering consumers to make online shopping safer with the E-commerce Marketplace Transaction Safety Ratings or TSR which will be refreshed in April 2023.

d. Public education on the consequences of engaging in scam activities.

e. To support scam victims, volunteer Victim Care Officers (VCOs) under the SPF’s Victim Care Cadre programme will offer psychological and emotional support to scam victims during investigation, and direct them to available professional resources for longer-term support.

Working Conditions of Security Officers
The Home Team will continue working with other government agencies and stakeholders to further improve the working conditions of security officers.

MHA Committee of Supply (COS) Debate 2023
Read the COS 2023 speech delivered by Minister of State Sun Xueling. For more information on MHA COS 2023, visit the MHA COS 2023 webpage.

Written by

Arvind Chan


27 February 2023

White-collar Crimes
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