Singapore Police Force (SPF) held a 3-day operation conducted between 5 December and 7 December 2016, where 70 persons were rounded up for their suspected involvement in various scams.
It said that 41 men and 29 women, aged between 17 and 68, are suspected to be involved in 187 cases of scams involving more than $629,000.
The Police stated that most of the suspects are believed to have advertised items for sale online. Victims were then asked to make deposit or advanced payments into local bank accounts before the delivery of items.
However, the suspects did not deliver the items and could not be contacted thereafter.
Majority of reports involve online community marketplaces such as Carousell, Gumtree, Craiglist and Facebook.
Other suspects involved include persons who have helped the criminal syndicates to register mobile lines and/or receive illegal funds in their local bank accounts.
The Police stressed that 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, or for Money Laundering which carries a punishment of imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine of up to S$500,000 under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.
Police stated that it will continue such enforcement operations and take firm actions against any party involved in scams.
The Police reminds the public to be vigilant when they shop online. For Online Purchase Scams, it was observed that the suspects have priced their items attractively – between 10% and 50% cheaper than the original price.
The top three product categories are electronic products, vouchers and tickets to concerts and local attractions, and personal accessories such as branded bags and watches.
If you see something being sold for a price that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
While online shopping is convenient, the Police would like to advise members of the public to take the following precautions when shopping online:
- Bear in mind that the party you are dealing with online is a stranger. Before performing a transaction, find out how the online site safeguards your interest or can help you resolve disputes;
- Whenever possible, pay only on delivery.
- 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; 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.
To avoid being an accomplice to a crime, you should always reject requests to use your bank account or handphone lines as you will be held accountable if there are illegal transactions found in the accounts.