Published: 02 November 2020
Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) of the more than 10,000 scam cases reported in the first eight months of the year, how many cases involved local scammers; and (b) given the rising trend where millions of dollars are lost to scams annually, whether the Ministry intends to increase criminal penalties against scammers.
1. Of the 10,402 cases of scams reported between January and August 2020, fewer than 10% were perpetrated by citizens and permanent residents (PRs). In this period, 538 citizens and PRs, accounting for 636 cases, were arrested, with 59 charged for various offences and 29 warned by the Police, based on the investigations done thus far.
2. Depending on the facts of the case, scammers may be charged for one of the cheating-related provisions under Sections 415 to 420 of the Penal Code, which carry maximum imprisonment terms of between 3 and 10 years. MHA’s assessment is that the penalties are sufficiently severe.
3. The main challenge in combating scams is their trans-national nature. Most of the scammers are based overseas, and not within our reach. We have been collaborating with foreign law enforcement agencies to detect and dismantle scam syndicates.MHA is also stepping up efforts on scam prevention through education and raising awareness, and working with partners such as banks and remittance companies to detect and stop scams before they happen.