Published: 13 September 2021
Mr Don Wee: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether the various Ministries can work together to prevent and solve cryptocurrency scams and crimes and, if so, in what ways.
1. To more effectively combat cryptocurrency scams and crimes, the Police established the Cryptocurrency Task Force 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 in cryptocurrencies. The Task Force works closely with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which regulates entities that deal in or facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrencies or Digital Payment Tokens (DPTs) in Singapore under the Payment Services Act. The Task Force also has links with the Association of Crypto Currency Enterprises and Start-ups Singapore (ACCESS), a Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Industry Association that aims to foster dialogue between Singaporean cryptocurrency and blockchain businesses and other relevant public and private sector stakeholders. The Police also work with the various cryptocurrency exchanges based locally and abroad to investigate into cryptocurrency crimes.
2. Enforcement against cryptocurrency related scams and crimes alone is insufficient. Public awareness and vigilance is key to preventing more people from falling prey to such scams. MAS has issued numerous advisories warning consumers of the risks of investing in and trading cryptocurrencies, given their highly speculative nature. MAS and the Police have also issued public advisories alerting consumers to fraudulent websites soliciting cryptocurrency investments. In addition, MoneySense has on-going outreach initiatives to alert consumers to the risks of investing in cryptocurrencies, through articles, campaigns and regular posts on Facebook and Instagram. Cryptocurrency investment scams, in particular, was a key focus area for MoneySense’s recent campaign from April to June 2021. Besides highlighting the risks of investing in cryptocurrencies, the campaign featured key messages about the risks of dealing with unregulated entities, and to always “Ask, Check and Confirm” before making investments.
3. Should consumers choose to invest in or trade cryptocurrencies, they are advised to check if the entities they deal with are regulated by MAS. Regulated entities have to comply with anti-money laundering and terrorism financing requirements, which means that they would have to put in place measures, such as performing customer due diligence and transaction monitoring, to reduce the risk of illicit actors transacting through them. Regulated entities are also required to put in place security measures to guard against cyber attacks. These entities would have to report any suspicious transactions to the Police.
4. The public may refer to the following resources found on MAS’s website:
(a) The Financial Institutions Directory - a list of financial institutions regulated by MAS and the activities they are authorised to provide;
(b) The Register of Representatives – a list of individuals who conduct activities regulated by MAS; and
(c) The Investor Alert List – a list of unregulated entities who, based on the information received by MAS, may have been wrongly perceived as being licensed or authorised by MAS.