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MHA COS 2024: Advancing the Fight Against Scams

Highlights from the speech by Minister of State Ms Sun Xueling on the importance of public education and a coordinated response with various stakeholders in the fight against scams.
MHA Advancing the Fight Against Scams_01
GRAPHIC: Amber Qua

During the Committee of Supply (COS) Debate 2024 on 29 February, Minister of State (MOS) Ms Sun Xueling set forth how the Home Team will advance the Whole-of-Government’s efforts to tackle scams. 

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

Public Education Remains Key
Scam cases increased by close to 50% in 2023, largely driven by scammers’ use of social engineering and deception to manipulate victims into transferring monies.
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PHOTO: iStock

To help our citizens identify and protect themselves from scams, the Home Team will adopt several approaches.

1. Add. Check. Tell. Campaign
The Home Team launched the Add, Check, Tell (ACT) campaign to help citizens identify and protect themselves from scams.

a) Add security features such as ScamShield; 
b) Check for signs of scams; and 
c) Tell the authorities and others about your scam encounters. 

2. Targeted Programmes for Vulnerable Groups
The government works with partners to roll out targeted programmes for different segments of the population. For example, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) works with Silver Generation Ambassadors to educate the elderly on scams.

3. Integrating Anti-Scam Resources in a One-Stop Portal
This year, anti-scam resources will be consolidated into a one-stop portal on scams. It will provide information on how you can protect yourself, the latest scam trends and where victims of scams can seek support.

4. Supporting Unwitting Victims
The Government is also studying additional measures to better support unwitting members of the public, including those who refuse to believe that they are being scammed. They could be victims of love scams or investment scams where they have invested affection or significant amounts of monies, making it difficult for them to extract themselves from the situation.

5. Enhancing Community Partnerships
To build a vigilant online community, the Home Team will expand existing community initiatives to include cybercrimes. This includes the Cyber Guardians on Watch and Crime Prevention Ambassador (Cyber) programmes which will be launched later this year.

Engaging Online Platforms
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and SPF have been engaging online platforms, specifically those which account for a large number of scams.
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PHOTO: iStock

Some like Shopee and Carousell have been willing, and are working closely with MHA and SPF, to strengthen their user verification processes. Other platforms have been less willing to implement additional measures.

The coming into force of the Online Criminal Harms Act (OCHA) will give SPF the legal power to issue directions to online platforms to prevent scam accounts and content from interacting with or reaching Singapore users. 

Introducing Legislation to Prevent Scams and Crime
Scammers are constantly evolving their modus operandi to get around our defences. For example, more scammers are using Singapore SIM cards to make scam calls and send SMSes as part of their efforts to bypass the blocking of overseas calls.
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PHOTO: iStock

MHA will be taking the following legislative measures:
1. Introduce offences to deter the misuse of local SIM cards for scams and other criminal activities; and
2. Issue Codes of Practice under OCHA to require designated providers of online services to put in place systems, processes and measures to disrupt scams affecting people in Singapore.

International Cooperation is Vital
Under Singapore’s Presidency of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Home Team has made fostering global cooperation to strengthen asset recovery one of its priorities. 

To further forge international partnerships to tackle scams, Singapore will participate in the inaugural Global Fraud Summit in March this year. 
MHA Committee of Supply (COS) Debate 2024
Read the speech delivered by Minister of State Ms Sun Xueling. For more information on MHA COS 2024, visit the MHA COS 2024 webpage.

Written by

Amber Qua


29 February 2024

Cyber Attacks
International Partnerships
White-collar Crimes
Security Industry
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