Number of online scam cases up by more than 2,000 per cent

Eighteen Singaporean money-mule suspects were arrested in a two-day sting operation that ended yesterday morning.

The six men and 12 women, aged 16 to 47 years old, were believed to be involved in multiple payment online purchase (MPOP) scams.

The Ang Mo Kio Police Division, which led the operation, has arrested 36 money-mule suspects so far this year, compared to only one in the first half of last year.

The division's commander, Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC) Lian Ghim Hua, said the police had stepped up enforcement against online scammers by going after money mules, "crippling their operations".

He added: "We've been aware of this modus operandi as early as last year, but the number of cases picked up in the first half of this year."

There was a stunning 2,223 per cent increase from the 13 reported cases of MPOP scams in the first half of last year to 302 cases in the same period this year.

On Tuesday, The New Paper observed officers from the division's commercial crime squad carry out a three-hour operation.

In one arrest, a male money-mule suspect in his 20s was ambushed at his home in Bedok North Road. He kept silent as he was handcuffed and led out of his flat by three plainclothes officers as his family members watched.

Said DAC Lian: "We see money mules as an area of concern in view of the significant increase in online scams, especially with more people doing e-commerce nowadays."

He added that the police will raise awareness among consumers so they won't fall prey to scams and also warn people from becoming money mules.

Those found guilty of cheating by acting as a money mule can be jailed up to 10 years and fined.