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Singaporean Police Arrest Over 300 People Over Online Scams

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Singaporean Police Arrest Over 300 People Over Online Scams

Singaporean police arrested 306 individuals, ranging in age from 15 to 73, for their involvement in over 1,000 online scams in which victims lost more than US$11 million. The 208 men and 98 women are being questioned by authorities.

Their arrests follows an investigation conducted by officials from the Commercial Affairs Department and seven police land divisions between February 16 and 29, the police said on March 1.

The accused are thought to have carried out friend impersonation, e-commerce, job, investment, and Internet love scams. They are under investigation for a variety of charges, including fraud, money laundering, and offering payment services without a license.

Those found guilty of cheating may face imprisonment for up to ten years and a fine. Those found guilty of money laundering may face up to ten years in prison, a $500,000 fine, or both. Those found guilty of operating a payment service firm without a license face a fine of up to $125,000, a three-year prison sentence, or both.

On February 18, The Straits Times reported that the number of scam cases in Singapore reached a new high in 2023, with victims losing $651.8 million. There were 46,563 documented cases in 2023, the most since the police began counting them in 2016.

Job scams were the most common ploy consumers fell for, with 9,914 incidents reported and a total loss of at least $135.7 million, up from $117.4 million in 2022.

Facebook Marketplace Scams How to Stay Safe When Buying and Selling Online

Facebook Marketplace Scams How to Stay Safe When Buying and Selling Online

Thousands Forced into Online Scams

The police advised the people to be careful and deny requests from outsiders to use their bank accounts or mobile phone lines, since they could be held accountable if these are used to commit crimes.

According to a new UN report, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world have been trafficked to Southeast Asia to carry out online scams. These schemes have pushed at least 120,000 individuals in Myanmar and another 100,000 in Cambodia to labor.

The majority of victims are Asian men, while others have come from further afield, including Africa and Latin America. While the problem has persisted for many years, the UN report provides the first comprehensive examination of its scope.

According to the paper, as pandemic-related shutdowns forced millions of individuals to stay at home and spend more time online, they were prime targets for masterminds of online fraud schemes.

While criminal gangs have traditionally preyed on less educated people looking to earn a fast buck, they are also targeting victims with professional occupations, many of whom hold graduate or even post-graduate degrees.

According to the research, many of these areas where people are forced to engage in cybercrime have inadequate governance and the rule of law, as well as contested authority.

“We must not forget that this complex phenomenon has two sets of victims,” stated Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The UN estimates that these scam centres produce billions of dollars in cash each year. Various media outlets, notably the BBC, have conducted extensive interviews with victims of these criminal networks.

Ads offering simple labor and lavish incentives frequently entice them to travel to Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand.

Once they arrive, they are imprisoned and forced to work in online scam centers. Those who fail to comply risk their safety. Many people have experienced torture and inhumane treatment.

Some networks also target those looking for love and romance, in what are known as “pig-butchering” scams. In a heartbreaking case last year, a 25-year-old Malaysian was tortured to death after traveling to Bangkok to meet a “girlfriend” he only spoke to online.

Instead, he was trafficked to Myanmar and forced to work for companies that engage in online scams. In one of his final calls to his parents, he said he had been beaten for apparently faking illness. He passed away after being in critical care for a month.

Existing legislation in several Southeast Asian nations frequently fall short of international norms and have “in large part” failed to respond appropriately to how online fraud operations have evolved since the outbreak, the UN stated.

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