Published: 15 August 2016
Mr Saktiandi Supaat: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how many people have been arrested for phone scams in the past two years; (b) how many cases are currently under investigation; (c) how many scams are run by mainland Chinese targeting especially elderly citizens; (d) whether the Ministry will look into how it can more speedily alert the public, in particular the elderly, to any new phone scams; and (e) whether the Ministry will consider enhancing penalties against phone scammers.
1. Scams are now being committed not just through phone conversations, but also over the Internet, as accessed through mobile phones and computers. Such scams include credit-for-sex scams, internet love scams, kidnap hoax scams and lottery scams. There were 2,450 of such cases in 2015 as compared to 1,007 cases in 2014. In the last two years, 127 persons were arrested in connection with these cases.
2. Scammers convicted of cheating are liable to imprisonment terms of up to 10 years and a fine. MHA will continue to ensure that our laws are relevant and effective against scammers.
3. Perpetrators of scams come from many different countries, including China. They do not select specific targets; they do a general sweep and hope that they strike at least a few victims. We have not observed any specific targeting of elderly victims.
4. The Police recognise that public education is key in preventing members of the public from falling prey to scams. The Police regularly publicise crime advisories via different media platforms, such as Crimewatch episodes, newspapers, the Police's Facebook page and the National Crime Prevention Council's Scam Alert website.
5. The Police have also strengthened efforts to reach out to the public, particularly the elderly, through Community Safety and Security Programmes and educational roadshows. In 2015, the Police conducted more than 80 roadshows in the community.
6. We urge the public to exercise caution and vigilance, to avoid falling victim to scams.