CNA – Twelve people were arrested in Malaysia after they were suspected to be involved in a scam syndicate targetting Singaporeans, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said yesterday Another 14 people in Singapore were arrested or investigated by SPF for aiding the syndicate by laundering criminal proceeds in Singapore.
Officers of the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) raided three apartment complexes in Johor on February 10, arresting 12 Malaysians aged between 16 and 27.
They were thought to be involved in a fake friend call scam targetting Singaporeans.
Preliminary investigations revealed the syndicate started its scam operations in December last year and used Singapore prepaid SIM cards to make calls to victims in Singapore.
“The syndicate is believed to be involved in more than 360 reports, with total losses of more than SGD1.3 million,” said SPF.
At the same time as the raids in Johor, SPF officers arrested or investigated 14 people, aged between 18 and 46, for allegedly helping the syndicate by laundering money.
They are suspected to have handed over their personal bank accounts or relinquished their Singpass accounts to the scammers.
SPF said the joint operation between both police forces “crippled one transnational scam syndicate”.
“The SPF and RMP collaborated and shared critical intelligence and information on the identities and operations of the criminal syndicate,” said Singapore police.
“The enquiries, analysis and collaboration paid off when the Malaysian criminal syndicate that was operating in Johor Bahru, Malaysia was located.”
Since January, more than 490 victims have fallen prey to the fake friend call scam, with total losses amounting to at least SGD1.7 million.
The offence of facilitating unauthorised access to computer material under the Computer Misuse Act carries a jail term of up to two years, a fine, or both.
If found guilty of unauthorised disclosure of access code for wrongful gain or unlawful purpose under the same Act, a person can be jailed for up to three years, fined, or both.
Director of SPF’s Commercial Affairs Department David Chew said, “Scams are a serious and persistent crime concern.
“Transnational crime syndicates will adapt their approach vectors to get around the controls Singapore puts in place to prevent scammers from reaching victims in Singapore from overseas.
“Apart from working on robust up-stream measures to disrupt the criminals’ lines of communication, the Singapore Police Force will continue to collaborate with our foreign law enforcement counterparts to detect and deter these transnational syndicates who prey on our citizens.”
He thanked officers from the RMP for their “strong support and commitment” in arresting members of transnational crime syndicates.
SPF warned people of a “persistent threat” posed by this fake friend call scam. Scammers pretending to be friends may call their victims and ask for money.
The police advised people to beware of requests received from phone calls or messages, even if they appear to be from family or friends.
People should verify if the request is legitimate by checking with their family and friends through other means, such as meet-ups, video calls or email.