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Anti-Scam Centre set up as scam cases continue to rise

SINGAPORE — A new Anti-Scam Centre has been set up in a bid to disrupt scammers, with scam cases bolstering overall crime statistics, despite a slowdown in almost all other crimes.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police (DAC)  Aileen Yap (middle) is part of the new Anti-Scam Centre, which has been set up to combat the rise of e-commerce scams, where victims lost a total of S$1.2m in the first half of this year.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police (DAC) Aileen Yap (middle) is part of the new Anti-Scam Centre, which has been set up to combat the rise of e-commerce scams, where victims lost a total of S$1.2m in the first half of this year.

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SINGAPORE — A new Anti-Scam Centre has been set up in a bid to disrupt scammers, with scam cases bolstering overall crime statistics despite a slowdown in almost all other crimes. 

In a statement on Friday (Aug 30), the Police said total reported crimes increased by 7 per cent to 16,745 cases, up from 15,649, but if scam cases were excluded this would drop to just 0.5 per cent. 

The centre, which started operations in June, allows the Police to collaborate closely with local banks, telcos and online marketplace app Carousell, where the majority of e-commerce scams happen. 

Through the centre, banks are able to freeze accounts in question swiftly — it would take several days previously — and telcos are alerted immediately to terminate phone lines used by scammers.

E-commerce scams remain the top type of scam here with 1,435 reported cases in the first six months of this year, compared to 1,013 in the same period last year. 

Victims lost a total of S$1.2 million during this period, up from S$870,000, with one case involving S$43,000. 

Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police Aileen Yap said at a media event on Monday (Aug 26): “The key impetus of setting up the Anti-Scam Centre is to disrupt scammers’ operations and mitigate victims’ losses. This includes freezing bank accounts to impede fund transfers.” 

During the first two months of operations, the centre received a total of 1,047 reports with losses involving S$2.4 million, primarily from e-commerce and loan scams.  A total of 815 bank accounts were frozen and 35 per cent of the amount scammed, or about S$840,000, was recovered. 

The centre has also been working with Carousell, a common platform used for scammers, specifically those posting fake advertisements for K-pop concert tickets.  

Ms Tan Su Lin, vice president of operations at Carousell, said: “We’ve been working with CAD (Police's Commercial Affairs Department) for about two years now. We exchange information in terms of suspicious actors or bad actors… We can quickly take enforcement action to remove their advertisements or profiles from the marketplace.” 

Carousell also introduced CarouPay last June, a form of escrow payment that will hold money paid by buyers until the sale is acknowledged by both parties. 

Another feature on Carousell is the My Info page, developed by the Government Technology Agency, which acts as a way to verify identities to prevent scammers from creating multiple fake accounts. 

The percentage of all e-commerce scams on Carousell decreased from 74 per cent in the first half of 2018 to 53 per cent in the first half of this year.

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scam police e-commerce Anti-Scam Centre

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