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Author Topic: Top Scams in Singapore: 2019, 2020, 2021  (Read 2150 times)

Offline ainat

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« Last Edit: January 31, 2021, 06:48:08 PM by ainat »

Offline ainat

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Re: Top Scams in Singapore: 2019, 2020, 2021
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2021, 06:50:11 PM »
'I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep': Man loses $50,000 in investment scam
Charlotte Chong | 31 Jan 2021

SINGAPORE - Mr Lin (not his real name) was not familiar with investments. But last December, a woman he befriended on Facebook encouraged him to open a trading account and introduced him to a broker she knew.

Trusting her, he invested much of his life savings into the account twice since Jan 1.

"I wanted to earn a bit more due to the pandemic," said Mr Lin, who works in the food and beverage industry. But two weeks later, he was told his trades had failed and that he owed the broker more than $80,000.

"I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat," Mr Lin said. "These are savings that I've saved bit by bit, from working over the years."

Last Thursday evening (Jan 28), Mr Lin was baking cookies for Chinese New Year when the Anti-Scam Centre (ASC) of the Singapore Police Force contacted him.

That was when he learnt the bank account of the broker he had transferred almost $50,000 to has been investigated for an investment scam.

Mr Lin was one of more than 200 victims who found out that they had fallen prey to scams in the course of an ASC operation.

During the three-day operation from last Wednesday to Friday, officers from the ASC worked with banks to intervene in scams involving fake gambling platforms and investments. Together, they traced fund transfers of suspicious accounts, contacted victims who made the transactions and advised them to stop any further transfers.

Many of them were completely unaware that they had been scammed, said the police.

From 2019 to 2020, investment scams increased by 126 per cent to 1,102 cases, with victims losing at least $69.5 million.

Fake gambling platforms scams have also increased by 1,800 per cent to 299 cases in 2020 from a year before, with losses totalling $15.4 million.

Besides social media sites, scammers also often cultivate victims through online dating platforms.

One of the victims is Mr Gan (not his real name), who was introduced to a trading platform by a woman he met on dating website Tinder. He invested a total of $1,200 on Jan 16 and 17, and was later told he had to pay $2,000 as tax to withdraw his earnings.

That was when alarm bells rang, and he had his suspicions confirmed when the ASC called him last Friday.

"There's no such thing as easy money," said Mr Gan, reflecting on his experience. The 38-year-old added that although he was sceptical, the offer was "very enticing".

In investment scams, victims often earn an initial profit from the investment, leading them to believe that the investment is legitimate and lucrative. Once larger amounts are deposited into the scammers' accounts, the scammers will become uncontactable.

In fake gambling platform scams, victims are often convinced that the online betting platforms introduced have loopholes that would allow them to reap easy profits. However, their accounts on the fake platforms would later be frozen and more money would be needed to encash their winnings. The scammers would also become uncontactable afterwards.

Currently, 76 men and 22 women, aged between 17 and 59, are being investigated for their suspected involvement in 359 investment and fake gambling platform scams. The suspects have allegedly helped the syndicates by opening bank accounts or transferring monies for the syndicate.

Those convicted of cheating can be fined and jailed for up to 10 years, and those involved in money laundering can be fined up to $500,000 and imprisoned for up to 10 years.

Victims of fake gambling platform scams may also be liable for offences under the Remote Gambling Act. They can be fined up to $5,000 and jailed for up to six months.

"The police would like to remind members of the public to be wary when befriending strangers on any social media or dating platforms," said senior investigation officer Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sunny Wee.

The police also advised to check with a licensed financial adviser before making any investments and to deal with companies that are licensed and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Those with information on investment or fake gambling platform scams should contact the police hotline on 1800-225-0000 or visit the I-Witness website.

For more information on scams, visit the ScamAlert website or call the anti-scam hotline on 1800-722-6688.