After a three-day island-wide operation conducted between 29 and 31 August 2017, 114 persons are now under investigations for their suspected involvement in various scams. The 57 men and 57 women, aged between 15 and 82, are suspected to be involved in 294 cases of scams involving more than S$1.5 million.
All of the suspects are being investigated for the offence of Cheating, which carries a punishment of imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine under the Penal Code, or Money Laundering, which carries a punishment of imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to S$500,000 under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.
The Police would like to remind members of the public to be wary when making online purchases, especially those involving hotel room reservations, attraction and concert tickets. The Police received 30 reports of Cheating relating to online hotel room reservations between January to July this year. In July 2017 alone, 24 such cases were reported.
In these cases, the suspects would advertise attractive hotel room reservations deals on online platforms, and would ask for a deposit or full sum to be transferred for the deal to go through. However, after the monies were transferred, the suspects would become uncontactable. The largest amount cheated from a single victim is $2300, and at least $18,000 were cheated from the victims in the reported cases.
The Police have also received numerous reports of online purchase scam cases involving the sale of concert and attraction tickets where victims did not receive the tickets after payments were made or ended up purchasing invalid or expired tickets.
In a recent case, a 29-year-old man was convicted for Cheating and Criminal Breach of Trust, and sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment on 30 August 2017 for perpetrating a series of online purchase scams through the online marketplace, Carousell. The man had created multiple Carousell accounts to mask his identity and advertised the sale of items including USS tickets, event and concert tickets at significantly lower prices. Upon receiving payment from buyers via bank transfers, there would be no delivery of the tickets or fake tickets would be issued to the victims.
While the Police will continue such enforcement operations and take firm action against any party involved in scams, members of the public should take the following precautions to avoid becoming a scam victim:
Do not share your personal information such as your identification number, bank account number, One-Time Passwords, or SMS-verification codes with anyone. Your personal information may be abused by scammers;
Before performing a transaction, find out how the online site safeguards your interest or can help you resolve disputes;
Be wary of people selling items for prices that sound too good to be true. Check the seller’s track record by reading reviews of their services or contact past customers.
Buy goods only from authorised dealers. If advanced payments are required, use shopping platforms that provide arrangements to only release your payment to the seller upon your receipt of the item;
Bear in mind that the party that you are dealing with online is a stranger. Whenever possible, pay only on delivery.
Arrange for a physical meet-up with the seller to verify the authenticity of the tickets prior to making payment, and take note of the terms and conditions of the ticket sale.; and
Be mindful that although scammers may provide a copy of an Identification Card or Driver’s licence to gain your trust, it may not necessarily belong to the person communicating with you online.
Persons found to have allowed their bank accounts to be used by criminals may also be investigated and prosecuted. To avoid being an accomplice to a money laundering offence, members of the public should always reject requests to use your bank accounts, as your account may be used to launder the proceeds of crime.
Source: Singapore Police Force