Four arrested for online mask scams

SINGAPORE (CNA) – Four people were arrested for their suspected involvement in separate online scams involving the sale of face masks, said Singapore police yesterday.

The scams took plan on various e-commerce platforms such as Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, Carousell, WhatsApp and Telegram.

Police said they had received many reports between January 2 and February 19 from victims who had been cheated by online sellers after paying for online masks.

“The sellers became uncontactable after payments were made via bank transfers,” said police in the media release.

Through investigations and working with banks and the e-commerce platforms, the police arrested four suspects.

One of the suspects was a 24-year-old woman who is believed to be involved in about 40 cases of scams amounting to more than SGD11,000.

Her victims responded to an advertisement on Facebook Marketplace for face masks, and were subsequently directed to communicate on WhatsApp to arrange for advance payments through bank transfers.

Another suspect, a 22-year-old man, is believed to be involved in at least 10 cases of scams amounting to more than SGD8,000. He advertised the masks and concert tickets on a Telegram group chat ‘SG free MarketPlace’ and on Carousell.

The third suspect was a 37-year-old man who was arrested on Thursday, said police. He is believed to be involved in at least 200 online scams amounting to more than SGD90,000.

He advertised face masks, hand sanitisers and thermometers on Carousell, where his victims were directed to make advance payments through bank transfers.

The fourth suspect was a 15-year-old who is believed to be involved in more than five online scam cases.

Advertising face masks, skincare products and hotel staycation packages on Gumtree and Carousell, he cheated his victims of more than SGD16,300.

They were also instructed to make payment through bank transfers.

Police advised members of the public to be careful when making online purchases, especially during the COVID-19 situation across Asia.