$157 million lost to scams in first 8 months of 2020 as cases doubled
Victims of scams lost $157 million in the first eight months of the year, with the number of reported cases here doubling from the same period last year.
Giving these updated figures in Parliament yesterday, Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan said the police started tracking the number and types of scams from 2016 when it became a crime of concern.
Since then, the number of scams rose from 5,383 cases that year to 9,545 cases last year, with the amount of money scammed also rising from $89.7 million to $170.8 million.
Between January and August this year, there were 10,402 cases of scams, up from 5,229 cases reported for that period last year, when victims lost $92 million.
The most common types are e-commerce scams, social media impersonation scams and loan scams, while investment scams led to the biggest losses.
In response to Mr Ang Wei Neng (West Coast GRC), who asked about the police's strategy to reduce scams, Mr Tan said the authorities take a multi-pronged approach - setting up specialised police units, collaborating with foreign law enforcement agencies, working with private and public stakeholders, and educating the public.
He highlighted the police's E-commerce Fraud Enforcement and Coordination Team, which has arrested 101 e-commerce scammers and solved about 2,000 e-commerce scams since it was set up in November 2018.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Scam Centre set up last year has frozen more than 6,100 bank accounts and recovered more than $21.2 million.
Mr Tan said the police also regularly engage banks, remittance agencies and convenience stores to train front-line staff to spot possible scam victims.
He added: "The key to the fight against scams is a discerning public. They are urged to stay vigilant and report possible scams promptly to the police."
When asked by Ms Poh Li San (Sembawang GRC) about strategies to protect seniors from scams given the efforts to increase digital literacy among the elderly, Mr Tan said the authorities have started to take a more targeted approach in their public education efforts.
His ministry will also look into Mr Ang's suggestion of breaking down scam case numbers by constituency and highlighting them in the community.