Published: 10 July 2018
1936. Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs with regard to the rising Internet love scams that resulted in $37 million of losses in 2017 (a) what is the typical profile of these victims; (b) what has been done to raise awareness of such scams to this group; and (c) what plans does the Ministry have to further reduce the risk of Singaporeans being cheated by such Internet love scams.
1. A significant proportion of victims of Internet Love Scams are female and between 30 and 60 years old. The scammers mainly befriend their victims through social media and dating platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Tinder, and OkCupid, winning their trust over time before cheating them of their money.
2. The Police have been working with partners such as the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) to step up public education on Internet Love Scams. We put out advisory messages through multiple platforms including newspapers, television, roadshows, posters on public transport, and social media. We have also set up an Anti-Scam Helpline (1800-722-6688) and the www.scamalert.sg website.
3. Police have been stepping up enforcement and a significant proportion of Internet Love Scams are committed remotely by foreign syndicates. The Police will continue to work closely with foreign law enforcement counterparts to crack down on overseas syndicates targeting Singaporeans.
4. In October 2017, the Police set up the Transnational Commercial Crime Task Force (TCTF), which will also look into tackling transnational Internet Love Scams. Since its formation, the Task Force has seized more than $1 million and closed around 300 bank accounts belonging to money mules who were involved in such scams. This has led to a steady decline in reports of such scams from about 100 cases in September 2017 to about 40 in February 2018.
5. The Police also work with Facebook to take down accounts that are used by scam syndicates. We intend to engage other major social media companies to do the same.