A joint operation conducted by the Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID), Royal Malaysia Police, Singapore Police Force (SPF), and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) in several Malaysian states last week arrested 27 suspects believed to be involved in cross-border ‘internet love scam’ syndicates.
The operation, which took place from 6 Feb to 8 Feb, yielded the arrests of 13 Nigerian nationals aged between 22 and 67, believed to be from at least four different syndicates. They are suspected to have been involved in 108 such scams reported by victims in both Singapore and Malaysia, with losses amounting to approximately RM21.6 million (about S$7 million), said SPF in its Facebook post on Monday (13 Feb).
The New Straits Times reported, also arrested were 14 female suspects, 13 Malaysian and one Indonesian women.
Telecommunication devices, computers, mobile phones, some cash and ATM cards, gold chains and seven vehicles were seized from the suspects.
“This marks the first successful joint investigation between the two departments against elusive criminals involved in syndicated Internet Love Scams,” said SPF.
With the arrests, Malaysian police say they have solved four cases referred to them by their Singaporean counterpart, and 54 cases in Malaysia.
CCID Director Acryl Sani said in a joint press conference this morning with CAD Director David Chew: “During the course of the joint investigation, CAD provided timely information to CCID, allowing CCID investigators to establish the identities of the suspects behind the scams.”
While arrest operations were ongoing in Malaysia, the CAD coordinated concurrent investigations against six female suspects in Singapore for transferring criminal proceeds to Malaysia-based suspects.
Mr David Chew said: “The success of this joint investigation is a testament to the close ties between CAD and CCID. Online scams are increasingly complex and transnational in nature.”
“To the criminals who think that they could hide behind the cloak of anonymity provided by the Internet to perpetrate fraud, we want to send a deterrent message that crime does not pay,” Mr Chew said.
He added: “ I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Director CCID, Dato’ Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani and his officers, for their strong support to CAD in this intensive investigation and enforcement effort.”
According to the SPF’s 2016 crime statistics released last week, Internet love scams in Singapore hit an all-time high in 2016.
It has 636 cases, compared to 385 in 2015. The total amount cheated was also the highest at S$24millon, double the $12mil in 2015.
On the subject of internet love scam SPF urges members of the public to:
- Be wary of strangers who befriend you online. They may not be whom they claim to be.
- Do not send money to people you do not know well, especially if you have not met them in person.
- Be in control of your emotions and meet all requests for money with a cool head, knowing that it may be a scam.
- Call the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800 722 6688 to check, if you receive any message or call from someone claiming to be in trouble overseas and urgently needs you to send money.