The Police have arrested a 31-year-old man for his suspected involvement in a series of e-commerce hotel room booking scams.

Between March and June 2019, the Police received several reports from victims who were purportedly cheated by online sellers who listed discounted bookings at hotels for sale on Carousell. The sellers became uncontactable after the victims transferred deposit payments to their accounts.

Through investigations, officers from the Commercial Affairs Department established the identity of the man and arrested him on 9 July 2019. He is believed to be involved in more than 100 cases of e-commerce scams amounting to more than $40,000. Additionally, to facilitate his scam operations, the man had deceptively presented himself as a genuine business proprietor and involved at least 10 unsuspecting Carousell users to assist in the publicity of the said listings.

The man will be charged in court on 11 July 2019 with cheating under Section 420 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224, which is punishable with an imprisonment term that may extend to 10 years, and a fine. The other Carousell users involved are assisting with police investigations.

While online shopping is convenient, the Police would like to advise members of the public to take the following precautions:

a. Find out how shopping platforms safeguard your interest or can help you resolve disputes, before performing a transaction through them. Note that the party you are dealing with online is a stranger;

b. Insist on cash on delivery especially if responding to online classified advertisements;

c. If advance payments are required, use shopping platforms that only release your payment to the seller upon your receipt of the item;

d. Note that sellers may provide a copy of an identification card or driver's licence to gain your trust, but it may not belong to the person communicating with you online; and

e. Note that scammers may use a local bank account to enhance their credibility; however, the owner of the account may not be the person communicating with you online.

Sellers should also exercise vigilance if they are approached to advertise goods and services on behalf of strangers in exchange for a fee. You may unwittingly become a conduit to the commission of scams.

For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the anti-scam hotline at 1800-722-6688. Anyone with information on such scams may call the Police hotline at 1800-255-0000 or submit information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Source: Singapore Police Force