SINGAPORE - A total of 34 people are being investigated by the police for their suspected involvement in various online scams.
Police conducted an island-wide operation from June 22 to 24.
The 24 men and 10 women are aged between 16 and 75, and are believed to be involved in 88 cases of online scams involving more than $165,000.
Some of the suspects are believed to have posed as online sellers of baby products or electronic gadgets, and did not deliver the products to buyers after receiving payment.
Some were recruited from online job portals or social networking websites to allegedly work as money mules. Their job required them to provide their bank accounts to be used by criminal syndicates to receive and transfer money to and from unknown sources.
If found to be guilty of cheating, the suspects face imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine. If convicted of money laundering offences, they could be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $500,000.
Director of Commercial Affairs Department, Mr David Chew, said: "The online marketplace is a place with low barriers to entry and helps a diverse group of persons to buy and sell their products. It is also a platform which criminals use to cheat unsuspecting online shoppers. Online shoppers must exercise due diligence when engaging in such online transactions."
Although a majority of commercial crimes reported involve e-commerce cheating, police have seen an influx of other scams, such as the "credits for sex" scam, which targets men willing to buy purchase cards or credits in exchange for a meet-up or the promise of sex.
To avoid becoming a victim of such scams, police advise members of the public to:
a) Be wary of strangers who befriend you online.
b) Never give your bank and credit card details and personal information to anyone you do not know or have not checked out.
c) If you are purchasing something, always check the track record of the party you are dealing with.
d) Use reputable sites and payment platforms with established refund policies.
e) Avoid making advance payments. If advance payments are necessary, insist on getting a contact number so that you may verify the beneficiary's identity.
Do be mindful that scammers may use a local bank account for the transaction to enhance their credibility. The owner of the bank account may not be the person communicating with you online.