Published: 12 January 2022
Dr Wan Rizal: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs in view of some $430,000 reportedly lost recently to scams involving hotel room bookings (a) whether any awareness campaign has been conducted to specifically target those planning for staycations; and (b) whether there are efforts to work with local influencers and content creators to join the campaign against such scams.
Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law:
1. The Police received multiple reports in December 2021 regarding two separate series of e-commerce scams involving non-fulfilment of hotel room bookings after payment was made. A 45-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman have been arrested for their suspected involvement in these scams. Investigations are ongoing.
2. Since 2020, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) has worked with Carousell to combat hotel room reservation scams, specifically by including a scam prevention advisory in Carousell’s in-platform chat function for users, for listings related to hotel room and staycation reservations. In addition, SPF, together with the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), continue to post and share advisories on Facebook to alert the public to be vigilant of hotel room reservation scams, especially during the school holiday season.
3. Over the course of 2021, the SPF and NCPC have engaged various content creators such as SGAG, King Kong Media, Double Up, and Woke Salaryman to highlight scams of concern such as job scams and loan scams. Most recently, NCPC engaged local filmmaker Royston Tan to produce a television commercial on job scams.
4. The Police also conduct regular engagement and outreach efforts to share crime prevention tips with members of the public. Through our anti-scam campaign called ‘Spot the Signs. Stop the Crimes.’, SPF and NCPC issue regular crime alerts and advice on the latest scam trends.
5. Ultimately, however, the best defence against scams is a vigilant and discerning public. In the context of e-commerce transactions, we urge the public to practise healthy skepticism, and to verify the legitimacy of online sellers, such as by checking the seller’s track record, reliability and reviews, before making payment. If a deal appears too good to be true, it could be a scam.