The Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) of the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) launched a joint investigation against a cross border Internet Love Scam syndicate in December 2017.

Following extensive joint investigations between CAD and CCID, two women and a man were arrested by CCID officers in Malaysia in December 2017 for their suspected involvement in several cases of Internet Love Scams in both Singapore and Malaysia. It was subsequently revealed that the syndicate had allegedly relied on individuals in Singapore for the receipt and transfer of their criminal proceeds.

Following the trio's arrest, CAD officers acted swiftly and investigated six women and two men in January 2018 for allegedly using their bank accounts to receive funds from victims of Internet Love Scams linked to the syndicate. In the course of investigations, CAD froze at least 21 bank accounts and recovered over S$50,000. At least 10 cases in Singapore involving losses of over S$240,000 were solved as a result of this joint investigation between CAD and CCID.

Director CAD, Mr David Chew said, The foreign criminal syndicates involved in Internet Love Scam are targeting victims on both sides of the Causeway. The SPF will continue to collaborate closely with our counterparts from the RMP to eradicate these syndicates who attempt to use territorial boundaries and the anonymity of the internet to fleece Malaysian and Singaporean victims. In addition to our enforcement efforts abroad, the SPF will make every effort to detect and interdict their network of local money launderers who abuse our financial system to help the syndicates retain and repatriate their ill-gotten gains.

Anyone found guilty of acquiring or transferring criminal benefits under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Offences (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, faces up to 10 years' imprisonment, or a fine up to S$500,000, or to both.

Internet Love Scams remain a serious crime concern. In 2017, Internet Love Scam cases increased by 29.9% to 825 cases, from 635 cases in the previous year. The total amount cheated increased by 54.2% to about $37 million in 2017 from about $24 million in 2016.

To avoid falling prey to these scams, members of the public should be careful when befriending strangers online. They should also be wary when being asked to send money to people whom they do not know. For more information on scams, members of the public can visit 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.

Source: Singapore Police Force