Singapore

Police, banks aim to freeze scammers' accounts within a day

The police have partnered more than 20 financial institutions that will move to freeze most bank accounts suspected to be linked to scammers within a day, in a bid to minimise losses to victims and tackle the ongoing scourge of scams.

This initiative - named Project Frontier (Funds Recovery Operations and Networks Team, Inspiring Effective Resolutions) - has reduced the time needed to freeze such bank accounts from 14 to 60 working days previously, said Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan yesterday.

"I've asked banks if we can work together to further compress the turnaround time for freezing of bank accounts used by scammers so that even less is lost to scams," he added.

Speaking during the debate on his ministry's budget, Mr Tan added that the Association of Banks in Singapore and its members have worked with the police and Monetary Authority of Singapore to detect and weed out scammers and money mules.

The inter-ministry committee on scams that Mr Tan chairs works with telcos and the Infocomm Media Development Authority to block spoof calls and scam websites used by scammers abroad, he said.

It is also working with online platforms to tackle e-commerce scams, for instance, by possibly improving seller verification, he added.

RECORD HIGH

This comes after last year saw a record high number of scams detected, climbing 65.1 per cent from 2019. The 15,756 reported cases of scams pushed the overall crime rate to its highest since 2009, according to police figures released last month.

If scams were excluded, the total number of crimes last year would have decreased by 15.3 per cent to 21,653, from 25,570 in 2019.

E-commerce scams, the most commonly reported type of scam last year, saw a 19.1 per cent jump to 3,354 reported cases compared with 2019. -

This article first appeared in The Straits Times.

COURT & CRIME