Published: 02 August 2023
Mr Desmond Choo: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs how is the Ministry enhancing measures to mitigate against scams on the purchase and reselling of concert tickets.
Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development:
1. The Singapore Police Force (SPF) has observed an increase in e-commerce scams involving concert tickets. In this scam variant, victims would come across advertisements for concert tickets on e-commerce websites or social media platforms, such as Carousell, Facebook, Telegram, and Twitter. When victims approach the scammers to purchase the concert tickets, scammers would often claim that the tickets are selling fast, to pressure victims into making payment quickly.
2. Once the payment is received, scammers would claim to be unable to transfer the tickets to the victim and thereafter become uncontactable. In some cases, victims may receive their tickets via email or WhatsApp, only to realise that the tickets are invalid on the actual day of the concert.
3. To combat this scam variant, and scams in general, no single measure alone is adequate. Instead, we require a multi-faceted approach, including blocking scam content, enhancing the safeguards on digital platforms, and public education.
4. The SPF worked closely with social media and e-commerce platforms to take down scam advertisements for concert tickets, as well as accounts involved in such scams, as soon as they were detected. SPF also worked with the platforms to prevent such scams from happening, such as through pre-emptive detection and blocking of scam accounts.
5. To raise awareness of concert ticket scams, SPF partnered ticket retailers, concert organisers and online platforms to issue advisories to the public. For example, SingPost displayed these advisories on digital screens within their outlets, for members of the public who were queuing to purchase concert tickets. Ticketmaster placed similar advisories on their website.
6. To tackle e-commerce scams upstream, the Inter-Ministry Committee on Scams launched the E-commerce Marketplace Transaction Safety Ratings (TSR) in May 2022. The TSR informs consumers on the anti-scam measures that major e-commerce marketplaces have in place, such as user verification and secured payment options.We encourage consumers to transact only with the marketplaces with better ratings. For example, Facebook Marketplace is rated the worst in the TSR. They have not implemented the safeguards we recommended, despite repeated engagements with them. Shopee and Carousell, on the other hand, have stepped up their measures, and we are glad, also for the sake of their customers.
7. In July 2023, the Ministry of Home Affairs passed the Online Criminal Harms Act, which will allow the Government to issue Directions to online platforms to disable online criminal content and activities, including scams-related ones. The Government can also require providers of designated online services to introduce upstream measures, such as user verification, to prevent scams from occurring in the first place.
8. Ultimately, the best defence against scams is a discerning public. We urge the the public to adopt precautionary measures through the three simple steps of “Add”, “Check”, “Tell”:
(a) First, “ADD” the ScamShield App, anti-virus software, and other security features, such as multifactor authentication for digital accounts and transaction limits for internet banking. When transacting online, use secured payment options, and never take transactions or payments off-platform;
(b) Second, “CHECK” the reviews of the seller and look out for potential red flags when making online purchases. For concert tickets, only purchase from authorised sellers and legitimate resellers, such as Ticketmaster. Where possible, arrange for a physical meet-up with the seller to verify the authenticity of the tickets, before making payment; and
(c) Third, “TELL” your family and friends about scam encounters, and report fraudulent advertisements to social media and e-commerce platforms, as well as to the authorities.