Published: 29 November 2022
Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what is the (i) average (ii) longest and (iii) shortest time it takes for the Anti-Scam Centre (ASC) to investigate scam cases thus far; and (b) does the ASC provide guidance to individuals who experience frozen accounts to appeal to the courts under section 35(8) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Social and Family Development:
1. Mr Speaker Sir, we had answered a Parliamentary Question on the time it takes Police to investigate scam cases just recently in July 2022.
2. The time taken to complete scam investigations depends on a couple of factors, such as the type of scam, how well the scammer covers his tracks, and whether or not the monies have been transferred overseas – because if it involves overseas jurisdictions which often is the case when it comes to scams that happen in Singapore, the time taken is necessarily longer. In that sense, every case, in terms of investigation time, differs significantly.
3. Bank accounts suspected to be involved in scam operations will be frozen by the Police, with monies seized as proceeds of crime. The freeze on the bank accounts will be lifted upon completion of investigations.
4. Persons whose bank accounts are frozen can make an application to the courts to withdraw monies for reasonable living or legitimate expenses. Section 35(8) of the Criminal Procedure Code allows the account holder to submit an application to the courts to access their funds for the payment of basic expenses, including any payment for foodstuff, rent, discharge of a mortgage, medicine, medical treatment, taxes, insurance premiums and public utility charges, amongst others. Where asked, the Police will inform account holders of this possibility and advise them to seek legal advice.
5. Thank you.