Published: 20 October 2022
Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how many scams related to cryptocurrency have been reported annually over the past three years; (b) whether there is a rising trend; and (c) what is being done to combat such scams.
Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law
1. In 2019, the Police received 125 reports related to cryptocurrency scams. This increased to 397 in 2020, and 631 in 2021.
2. The vast majority of cryptocurrency scams are perpetrated by scammers based outside Singapore. As such, there is a limit to how much law enforcement agencies in Singapore can do. 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 the money has been transferred overseas, recovery is even more difficult.
3. Nonetheless, we have stepped up our investigation efforts. The Police established a cryptocurrency taskforce in 2018 to monitor the cryptocurrency landscape, develop and improve operational procedures in investigations and seizure of cryptocurrencies, and establish working relationships with overseas law enforcement agencies, industry professionals, and academic experts. The taskforce works closely with MAS, which regulates entities that deal in or facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrencies.
4. The best defence, however, is a discerning public. To that end, we have stepped up public education efforts to educate the public on cryptocurrency-related scams. Since 2017, MAS has consistently warned that cryptocurrencies are not suitable investments for the general public given their highly volatile prices and speculative nature. MAS and MoneySense will continue to issue such warnings through advisories and MoneySense’s outreach channels.
5. Members of the public should practise healthy skepticism to ask, check and confirm, before making any cryptocurrency transactions.