Published: 06 March 2019
Mr Ang Wei Neng: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what are the crime statistics for the top 10 scams in Singapore for the past five years; and (b) what are the current resources in the Singapore Police Force that are dedicated to (i) solving online and phone scams as compared to the past five years and (ii) detecting and preventing online and phone scams.
1. In the past five years, the top scam types include e-commerce scams, loan scams, internet love scams and credit-for-sex scams.
2. For these top types of scams, the number of reported cases has gone up from around 2,600 cases in 2014 to around 5,800 cases in 2018.
3. The Member asked about Police resources dedicated to online and phone scams.
4. First, better organisation of resources. Since 2016, cybercrime investigation, digital forensics training, liaison and policy matters have been integrated under a single Cybercrime Command. This has allowed SPF to achieve better coordination between the different units involved in cybercrime.
5. Second, better training of officers. All frontline Police officers and investigation officers have been trained in basic cybercrime investigations. In addition, officers with the aptitude for cybercrime investigations and digital forensics are given specialised training.
6. Third, better use of technology to help solve crimes, such as digital forensics, malware analysis, and video analytics.
7. Fourth, formation of specialised units.The Police set up the Transnational Commercial Crime Task Force (TCTF) in October 2017 to tackle transnational online and phone scams. We have seen good results.The TCTF has closed over 600 bank accounts and recovered more than S$1.5 million.
8. The Police also set up an E-Commerce Fraud Enforcement and Coordination Team (E-FECT) in November 2018. Within two months of its formation, the E-FECT arrested 26 e-commerce scammers and solved more than 230 e-commerce scams.
9. To prevent scams, the Police have been working closely with stakeholders such as convenience stores, remittance agencies and banks, to raise their awareness and develop suitable prevention measures.
10. This includes training frontline counter staff to spot scam victims, and displaying crime advisories prominently at counters and Automated Teller Machines. These efforts have resulted in heightened awareness and vigilance amongst staff, and these has helped prevent at least 80 scam cases involving close to $300,000 in 2018.
11. In the online space too, the Police have engaged major online shopping platforms to implement measures to safeguard consumers. An example is Police’s partnership with Carousell to remove suspicious advertisements on their platform, introduce a secure payment system, and feature scam advisories.
12. The Police have also been working with the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) to step up public education on online and phone scams.
13. The Police have also set up an Anti-Scam Helpline (1800-722-6688) and the www.scamalert.sg website. Members of the public are encouraged to visit the website to learn more about the various types of scam and take steps to avoid becoming a victim.