Published: 07 November 2023
Mr Saktiandi Supaat: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether an update can be provided on the planned collaborations with foreign counterparts to combat scams and recover scammed monies, especially for cases where the scammers are based overseas.
Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law:
1. The Ministry of Home Affairs has been engaging our foreign counterparts both bilaterally and in multilateral fora to cooperate in the fight against scams. These include the ASEAN Ministerial and Senior Officials Meetings on Transnational Crime, the ASEAN Senior Officials Roundtable on Cybercrime, the Global Anti-Scam Summit which took place recently in Lisbon, the Financial Action Task Force and INTERPOL.
2. We have three areas of interest.
3. First, to enhance cross-border enforcement and asset recovery. The vast majority of scams are perpetrated by scammers based outside Singapore. These scammers run sophisticated operations with extensive networks, and are adept at using technology to swiftly move funds, often across jurisdictions, to evade detection by the authorities. Our ability to solve scam cases and recover scammed monies depends very much on the level of cooperation provided by overseas law enforcement agencies, as well as their ability to stop the dissipation of the monies.
4. In this last regard, we have been sharing with our foreign counterparts, the operational model of Police’s Anti-Scam Command, where law enforcement officers and bank staff are co-located. We encourage other countries to develop similar capabilities to seize funds quickly, so as to enhance our collective ability to recover scam proceeds.
5. Second, we want industry stakeholders to implement more upstream measures to protect their users, and collaborate with law enforcement agencies. In particular, we have observed that scammers are increasingly leveraging social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram), and messaging apps (e.g., Whatsapp, Telegram), to conduct their operations. We have therefore been engaging these platforms to implement safeguards, such as implementing user verification processes to ensure that accounts are legitimate.
6. We would like to work with other countries to collectively engage these online platforms.
7. Third, we continue to engage our foreign counterparts to exchange information on the latest scam variants and strategies to combat scams, and learn from one another’s experiences.
8. In short, this transnational scourge is not something we can tackle alone. We need not just the cooperation of the public and the private sector, but need to work together across jurisdictions too.