Saturday, 18 February 2017

Online romance scam epidemic

Four love scam rings busted

Four Internet love scam syndicates based in Malaysia have been crippled in a joint operation by Malaysian and Singaporean police.

They had targeted victims here and in neighbouring countries. Singapore’s Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) was alerted after 43 victims lodged reports that they had been cheated of RM20.7mil in total.

CAD approached the Federal Com­­mercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) here and joint investigations revealed 13 of the 43 cases in Singapore had striking si­­mi­­larities with 65 cases in Malaysia.

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If you have been befriended online by an attractive person – usually foreign – who then tells a tale of falling into trouble or on hard times, this is probably an Internet love scam. The scammer persists with their story to gain their victim's adoration and trust, then asks for money as proof of love. Once the money is transferred, the scammer disappears.

  • Be careful when befriending strangers online. Know the the tell-tale signs of a fake dating profile: poor grammar that doesn't gel with their level of education, or using a fake photo sourced from the Internet are just a couple of warning signs
  • Scammers prey on emotions to lull victims into believing their friendship is genuine; be wary of people who shower you with loving words and profess strong feelings for you even before you have even met
  • Do not respond hastily to any requests of money, even if they sound desperate or troubled
  • Do not send money to people you do not know well, especially if you have not met in person
  • Be in control of your emotions and meet all requests for money with a cool head, knowing that it could be a scam
  • Do not reveal too much about yourself, particularly in the form of photos or videos, to prevent you from being blackmailed later on
  • Contact the Police immediately if you receive any message or call from someone claiming to be in trouble overseas and urgently needs you to send money
  • Inform the Police is anyone tries to extort money from you

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Why Smart Singaporeans Fall for Stupid Love Scams

According to the Singapore Police Force, internet love scams are up 65% in 2016. Why do the most educated Singaporeans still fall for them?

Digital fraud is on the rise in Singapore. From sex-for-credit to the DHL scams, otherwise intelligent Singaporeans seem to be easy targets. A recent report from The Singapore Police Force states that while the overall crime rate was down 2.1% last year, 2016 saw 636 cases of internet love scams, up from 285 in 2015. Approximately $24 million was swindled from these unfortunate scam victims.

What makes our well-educated, rational society vulnerable to these con men (or women)? The answer may lie in the fact that context, not intelligence, determines our susceptibility.

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Unloved in Singapore: Middle-Aged Chinese Women Most Likely to Fall for Online Love Scams

Jialat lah, it seems that middle-aged Chinese women in Singapore aren’t feeling the love. So much so, that many of them are falling for love scams over the internet. Authorities have received 190 reports of internet love scams this year involving some S$7.5 million being conned off victims. A whopping 87 percent of the victims are women between the age of 30 to 59 years old. 70 percent of the victims were Chinese.

Close to 50 percent of the victims held executive to managerial level jobs. Scammers approached the victims on social media platforms such as Facebook, and Skout. They developed a “relationship” with the victims, then claimed they were facing financial difficulties and asked the victims for money.

Men aren’t off the hook when it comes to online scams. However, unlike the ladies, they tend to fall for sex scams instead, where they are duped into paying in advance for a sexual service that never takes place.

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Woman scammed of S$40,200 by fake online Romeo

After befriending a man who appeared to be a Caucasian on Facebook & spending time communicating with him, Jenny (not her real name), who is in her 50s, fell head over heels with the person, who went by the name “J Carl”.

So enamoured was Jenny with J Carl that when he poured out his woes of financial hardship to her, she sold shares — to the tune of S$40,200 — to help him. By August last year, Jenny’s older sister Mary (also not her real name) caught wind of the virtual relationship. Jenny had also told Mary, 60, that J Carl would be visiting her in Singapore, but that meeting did not come to fruition.

Mary grew suspicious after learning that her sister was instructed to remit money to various Malaysian bank accounts, all of which belonged to strangers.

related: Crime rates dip, but love scams see 65% spike

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5 Awful Money Scams Singaporeans Keep Falling For
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Protect your savings and watch out for these money scams in Singapore.

We can all be thankful that Singapore is low on crime. It’s unlikely that someone will pick your pocket or rob you with a knife.

But that doesn’t mean we lack criminal elements. Crooks in Singapore are simply smarter, and they know what makes us tick. Here are the common scams in Singapore today, and why smart Singaporeans fall for them:
  • Internet Love Scams
  • Online Shopping Scams
  • Free Algorithm Trading
  • Exotic and Unregulated Investments
  • Facebook Friend Scam

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Housewives and Retirees Lose S$1.6million after “Investment Company” Shutters
Picture above is a press conference held by irate investors who are seeking justice

52-year-old Mdm Teo had put in S$40,000 of her hard-earned savings into an investment company known as Ufun Store Pte Ltd, or Ufun. The promise was that after 1 year, she would be paid 20 times of her capital investment. That means, she stood to get back S$800,000.

The deal, unfortunately, was too good to be true. Mdm Teo invested in Ufun in August 2014, and when she tried to collect her dividends in 2015, she said the company gave a whole host of excuses not to deliver the promised cash. Mdm Teo is among at least 60 people who invested a total of around S$1.6 million in Ufun.

Some were retires banking on the promised dividends to fund their later stage of retirement. Others were housewives hoping to use that money to put their kids through university. They’ve received little to nothing in return.

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Dating & romance

Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details.

Dating and romance scams often take place through online dating websites, but scammers may also use social media or email to make contact. They have even been known to telephone their victims as a first introduction. These scams are also known as ‘catfishing’.

Scammers typically create fake online profiles designed to  lure you in. They may use a fictional name, or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers or professionals working abroad.

Types of scams
Latest news and alerts

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Singapore, Malaysia police crack down on 'Africa scam' with more than 100 victims

Malaysia & Singapore authorities have thwarted 4 syndicates behind an "Africa scam", where more than 100 victims - mostly women - suffered total losses exceeding S$6.4 million in fake online relationships.

34 people have been arrested in various states, 13 of whom are Nigerians, according to the authorities on Monday (Feb 13).

The scammers got to know their victims in Singapore & Malaysia through social media, usually under the pretext of entering a relationship.

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Joint Effort By M'sia, S'pore Police Cripples African Scam Syndicate

A joint effort by the Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigations Department (CCID) and Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) managed to cripple four African scam syndicates following two raids in January in Malaysia.

The joint effort saw the arrest of 27 suspects comprising 12 African men, an Indonesian woman, while the rest were local women, aged 22 to 65.

Speaking at a joint press conference at the CCID headquarters here today, Bukit Aman CCID director Commissioner Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani and Singapore's CAD director David Chew said the syndicates were allegedly responsible for losses of RM21.6 million, from 65 victims in Malaysia and 43 victims from across the border.

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M'sian, S'porean police bust Nigerian-run 'internet love scam' syndicate

Several “internet love scam” syndicates were crippled in a recent cross-border operation conducted by the Malaysian police's Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) and the Singapore Police Force's Commercial Affairs Department (CAD).

CCID director Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said 27 suspects, believed to be from at least four different syndicates, were arrested in the joint-operation known as 'Ops Tiong Global1/17', which was conducted between Feb 6 and Feb 10.

The suspects, aged between 22 and 67, include 13 Nigerians who are believed to be involved in 108 cases of internet love scams reported by victims in both Malaysia and Singapore, with losses amounting to approximately RM21.6 million.

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Australia, Malaysia, S'pore on love scam alert

Love may be in the air on Saint Valentine's Day but authorities in Australia, Malaysia & Singapore warned Monday of a growth in online scams cheating lonely people out of their savings.

Romance scams cost Australians more money than any other form of cheating, with those aged over 45 more likely to be stung, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said.

Victims are lured with promises of love & companionship into giving strangers money.

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RM21.6 million Internet fraud: 34 suspects held in Malaysia, Singapore

Malaysia and Singapore police arrested 34 suspects involved in the ‘African Scam’ with losses amounting to RM21.6 million in Singapore and five states in Malaysia.

The suspects were detained in Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Malacca, Sarawak and Singapore from Monday to Friday in a joint operation with Singaporean police.

Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said the 34 suspects comprised 13 Africans, 13 local women, seven Singaporean women and an Indonesian woman, all aged between 22 to 67.

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Malaysia and Singapore police cripple internet love scam syndicates

Twenty-seven suspects have been arrested in various states in Malaysia for allegedly being involved in internet love scams during a joint operation conducted by Malaysian and Singapore police.

Singapore Police Force (SPF) said in a media release on Monday (13 February) that the operation took place between 6 and 8 February and involved the Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID), Royal Malaysia Police and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and SPF.

Among the suspects are 13 Nigerian nationals who were allegedly involved in 108 cases of internet love scams reported by victims in both Singapore and Malaysia, with total losses of about RM21.6 million (S$6.9 million). Mobile phones, computers and ATM cards were seized from the suspects.

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M'sia, S'pore police cripples African scam syndicate

The suspects had used the well-known modus operandi of first gaining the trust of their victims, who were mostly women.

They would then claim a gift or a parcel meant for the victim was stuck at the customs office and a payment would be needed for its release.

A bank account, provided by an account mule, would be given to the victim where they would deposit the money. The suspects would then lose contact with the victims once the money has been deposited.

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Internet love scam syndicates crippled in a cross border joint operation
Photo: Singapore Police Force Facebook

A joint operation conducted by the Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID), Royal Malaysia Police, Singapore Police Force (SPF), and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) in several Malaysian states last week arrested 27 suspects believed to be involved in cross-border ‘internet love scam’ syndicates.

The operation, which took place from 6 Feb to 8 Feb, yielded the arrests of 13 Nigerian nationals aged between 22 and 67, believed to be from at least four different syndicates.

They are suspected to have been involved in 108 such scams reported by victims in both Singapore and Malaysia, with losses amounting to approximately RM21.6 million (about S$7 million), said SPF in its Facebook post on Monday (13 Feb).

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S'pore, M'sia police target love scams

Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and the S'pore Police Force (SPF) have teamed up with their Malaysian counterparts to target four cross-border Internet love scam syndicates.

The 108 victims, including 43 Singaporeans, in both Singapore & Malaysia, lost about RM21.6 million (S$7m).

In a press statement yesterday, the SPF said 27 suspects were arrested in various states in Malaysia during a joint operation involving Malaysia's Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID), Royal Malaysia Police, the CAD & SPF.

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Young parents lost about S$70,000 in phone scam

Armed with nearly 10 yrs’ worth of hard-earned savings, 1st-time parents Joanne & Mark (not their real names) were ready to move to an executive condominium with their 3-month-old son, when they fell prey to a phone scam and lost almost S$70,000 of their savings to conmen posing as police officers.

The incident happened on July 2 & since then, Joanne has been depressed and having sleepless nights, not to mention having to tend to her newborn during her maternity leave. When asked if she knew about recent media reports and warnings from the police about phone scams, Joanne said that she had been too tired to keep up with the news.

The couple, both 30, have not told their family or friends and do not want to be identified. They are living off money borrowed from a friend, and staying put in their 5-room flat for now.

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Scam Alerts

Crooks use clever schemes to defraud millions of people every year. They often combine sophisticated technology with age-old tricks to get people to send money or give out personal information.

They add new twists to old schemes and pressure people to make important decisions on the spot. One thing that never changes: they follow the headlines — and the money.

Stay a step ahead with the latest info and practical tips from the nation’s consumer protection agency. Browse FTC scam alerts by topic or by most recent.

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More than $25 million lost in online dating and romance scams in 2016

As Valentine's Day approaches, the consumer watchdog has issued a fresh warning about dating and romance scams, revealing losses of more than $25 million from such scams in 2016 alone.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission received more than 4100 reports of dating and romance scams last year.

Of the reported cases, just 25 per cent amounted to the $25 million-plus losses. The figure is the largest amount of money lost to any type of scam, and $3 million greater than the same reports of 2015.

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Experts warn of online dating scams following Valentine’s Day surge

IF being alone on Valentine’s Day wasn’t already painful enough, singles have just been given another kick in guts.

With the annual faux-holiday set to be responsible for a surge in online dating, singles are being told to be cautious of scammers looking to capitalise on their loneliness.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) claim more than $25 million was stolen by romance scammers last year — the largest amount lost to any scam in 2016.

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Scams on the rise in Singapore: What are some of them?
Scams committed over the phone & on social media more than doubled in 2015. FOTO: ST FILE

Recent months have seen a rise in scams here, with numerous reports highlighting how scammers resort to different ways to cheat unsuspecting victims.

Police told The Straits Times earlier this month that there has been an increase in the number of reports of people falling victim to scams.

Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam also said in a written reply to Parliament that scams committed over the phone & on social media - these include credit-for-sex scams, Internet love scams, kidnap hoax scams & lottery scams - have more than doubled in a year.

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Girl who provides sexual service said she won't accept cash payment

It happened on a social network platform wechat. i added this China girl 21 years old and she stated that she provide sexual services for $100/299 hour. Then we meet at her location Killiney road SPC petrol station.

She then text me telling me that her boss wanted to speak to me on phone so I gave my phone number to her. Her boss called and a young China accent guy claiming to be from 369 gang and even had company in Chinatown and website told me to pay up. Strangely, he said he won't accept cash payment.

This is obviously a scam, so beware.

related: SCAM ALERT!

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4 Scams Singaporeans Are Still Falling For
What You Should Know

Singaporeans are very proud of the fact that theirs is one of the safest cities in the world, often citing as proof their ability to walk around at 3 in the morning without getting mugged.

The country may not exactly be crawling with an underworld of scary crooks, but when it comes to scams that will divest you of your money quicker than you can say “sayonara life savings,”, it’s becoming an increasingly dangerous place.

The latest victim of an internet dating scam has lost a record $1.7 million, which really boggles the mind. Don’t become the next person to be featured in The New Paper for his gullibility and watch out for these four scams that, despite getting press coverage, are still getting the better of Singaporeans:
  1. iPhone pop-up scam
  2. Police scam
  3. Email impersonation scam
  4. Internet love scams
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Web Love Scams
Cheated - men seeking sex, women seeking love

Singapore saw a sharp rise in online crime cases last year, with men making up the biggest group of victims: More than a thousand were tempted into handing over money for sexual services that never materialized.

There were slightly over 1,200 such cases, up from just 66 in 2014, according to annual police crime statistics released yesterday.

Victims, aged from 14 to 69, were cheated out of almost $3 million in total, by women purporting to offer sex in exchange for online credits or gift cards

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Internet Love Scams
Soaring numbers of Singaporean women fall prey to web love scams

Soaring numbers of Singaporeans - mostly women - are falling victim to "Internet love scams" police said in a Valentine's Day warning that criminals are exploiting lonely hearts increasingly turning to the web to find partners.

The number of people robbed by online con artists faking romantic interest before tricking people out of money jumped 62 per cent between 2012 and 2013, police said in an annual crime briefing. Official figures also show e-commerce rackets doubled to 509 in 2013.
The total amount reported lost to such forms of fraud in 2013 was $6.01 million, police said, a steep rise from $1.20 million in 2012.

Police said the victims of the online love scams were mainly women searching for partners in social networks and on dating websites.

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Protect yourself from frauds & scams

Five tips to protect yourself from ATM fraud

Card skimming scammers are becoming increasingly clever. Here s how to protect yourself from ATM fraud:
  • Protect your PIN
  • Pick your ATMs carefully
  • Get cashback from shops instead
  • Keep track of your accounts
  • Be suspicious

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