While online classified scams are not new, the scammers are always evolving their methods to avert the suspicions of their potential victims.

Superintendent Chew Jingwei, who heads the Commercial Affairs Department's syndicated fraud branch, said: "In the past, if a scammer were to post an advertisement online and tell you to remit the money to, say, Nigeria, you would be more careful.

"But nowadays, because there's a Singaporean bank account, you will tend to let your guard down."

The local bank accounts might be owned by money mules here, who might not even know they are part of a criminal operation.


Mr Terence Seah, a lawyer specialising in commercial crime and regulatory offences, said it is "buyers beware" when responding to offers in online classifieds.

"The general advice would be to check the reputation of the actual seller and not rely on the website to do it for you," he said.

The lawyer from Shook Lin & Bok LLP said those who fall victim to online scams always seem to be "more susceptible to being cheated".

"The scammers cast their net wide. While 99 out of 100 people might shun them, thinking that it's an obvious scam, all they are aiming for is that one gullible person."

His advice: Insist on meeting the seller, check his or her track record on the website and never assume the seller is legitimate.