Published: 11 January 2022
Dr Shahira Abdullah: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs in view of the Neko Inu crypto gaming craze that has resulted in Singaporeans losing over $100,000 in cryptocurrency, what is being done to educate and protect youths from falling prey to cryptocurrency game scams.
Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law:
1. With increasing interest in cryptocurrency, cryptocurrency-related scams have become more common. These scams come in many forms. In addition to online games that the Member mentioned, cryptocurrency-related scams include fake trading platforms, and fake investment schemes.
2. Given that the vast majority of such cryptocurrency scams are perpetrated by scammers based outside Singapore, there is a limit to how much law enforcement agencies in Singapore can do once the scam has taken place. Our ability to solve these cases will depend on the level of cooperation from overseas law enforcement agencies, as well as their ability to track down these scammers. Where money has been transferred overseas, recovery is also more difficult.
3. Nonetheless, to address these scams, we have stepped up investigation efforts. The Police established a cryptocurrency taskforce in 2018 to monitor the cryptocurrency landscape, develop and improve operational procedures in the investigation and seizing of cryptocurrencies, and establish working relationships with overseas law enforcement agencies, industry professionals, and academic experts. The taskforce works closely with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, or MAS, which regulates entities that deal in or facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrencies.
4. Given the difficulties in investigating and prosecuting such overseas-based cryptocurrency scams, the best defence is a discerning public. To that end, we have stepped up public education efforts to educate the public on cryptocurrency-related scams. Police have shared advisories and worked with government agencies to increase public awareness. For example, in MoneySense’s recent campaign from April to June 2021, in addition to highlighting the risks of investing in cryptocurrencies, the campaign featured key messages about the risks of dealing with unregulated entities, and reminded the public to always “Ask, Check and Confirm”.
5. When transacting with cryptocurrencies, we urge the public to only deal with entities that are regulated by the MAS. Members of the public should also practise healthy skepticism to ask, check and confirm before making any transactions on cryptocurrency-related platforms, whether they be investment-related, or for online games. If the offer from an investment platform or online game appears too good to be true, it could be a scam.