Internet love scams and cyber extortions up 7.4 per cent in 2014

Internet love scams and cyber extortions up 7.4 per cent in 2014

SINGAPORE - Internet love scams and cyber extortion cases increase overall crime in Singapore, which went up by 7.4 per cent to 32,196 cases last year, according to police annual statistics

OTHER CRIMES

STATUTORY RAPE

+29 per cent

This refers to when a person has consensual sex with a female under the age of 14. Most offenders were youth and known to the victims.

2013: 51

2014: 66

Youth arrested for rioting

+13.8 per cent

2013: 283

2014: 322

YOUTHS ARRESTED FOR SHOP THEFT

+1.8 per cent

2013: 791

2014: 805

MURDER

-12 per cent

2013: 16

2014: 14

HOUSEBREAKING AND RELATED CRIMES

-35.5 per cent

2013: 543

2014: 350

UNLICENSED MONEYLENDING-RELATED HARASSMENT

-18.3 per cent

2013: 7,052

2014: 5,763

THEFT AND RELATED CRIMES

-1.7 per cent

2013: 17,075

2014: 16,784

OUTRAGE OF MODESTY

+3.2 per cent

2013: 1,325

2014: 1,367

COMMERCIAL CRIMES

+42.3 per cent

2013: 3,947

2014: 5,615

CRIMES AT CASINOS AND INTEGRATED RESORTS

+17.7 per cent

2013: 361

2014: 425

CASINO CRIMES

+30.9 per cent

Most involve cheating at game tables, casino theft and impersonation to try enter casino

2013: 139

2014: 182

CYBER CRIME

+225.3 per cent

Overall, cheating involving e-commerce has nearly trebled, to 1,659 cases in 2014.

INTERNET

LOVE SCAM

+143.2 per cent

Victims are mainly women between 35 and 60 years old. They enter into relationships with men they get to know online. These men, who mostly claim to be from the UK, would ask the women to transfer money to them. The highest amount a woman has been cheated of is $883,109.

2013: 81 cases Total: $5.8 million

2014: 197 cases Total: $8.8 million

CYBER EXTORTION

+138 per cent

Victims are mostly men between 20 and 39 years old. It usually involves female suspects who threaten to post compromising pictures of the men after a cyber-sex session, where the men had been coaxed into undressing and performing sex acts on a web camera.

2013: 108 cases Total: $56,000

2014: 257 cases Total: $145,000

KIDNAP HOAX

PHONE SCAM

+207.7 per cent

Scammers would call victims, tell them that their child had been kidnapped and demand a "ransom".

2013: 13 cases Total: $81,400

2014: 40 cases Total: $113,700

GIFT CARD SCAMS

NEW

An emerging trend last year saw scammers hack into phone messaging applications and pose as the victims' friends, asking them to buy gift cards and promising to pay them back later.

They would ask the victims to take a picture of the card's activation code and send it to them.

2014: 149 cases Total: $138,700

MULTIPLE ONLINE PAYMENT SCAM

+236 per cent

Culprits would pose as online sellers of some products priced much lower than the market rate. After the victims made payment, their goods would not arrive and the culprits would ask for more money for "administrative charges".

2013: 269 cases Total: $240,6000

2014: 904 cases Total: $735,500

PHONY PAYPAL

E-MAIL SCAM

+1,256 per cent

Victims were online sellers who received fake e-mails from PayPal stating that payment had been made. They would send out goods to the "buyer", but the money never came through.

2013: 9 cases Total: $10,000

2014: 122 cases Total: $116,800

She gives $880,000 to man she hasn't met

When she went on an online dating site, she never thought it would cost her more than $800,000 in hard-earned savings.

Last June, Amy (not her real name), who is in her 40s, started responding to a man who had approached her in 2009.

The man, whom we shall call Abraham, said that he was from the UK and the pair struck up a relationship.

By July, Abraham said he was going to marry Amy and she talked about relocating to the UK.

On the pretext of helping her apply for a permit to work in the UK, he asked for $17,000. Amy, a secretary, sent it to him via an interbank transfer.

The pair spoke about buying property in Singapore and she asked to meet Abraham in Kuala Lumpur, where he said his late father had "shares".

Abraham did not show up but asked her to meet a representative of a logistics company instead.

The man told her that he needed $5,000 as an "administrative fee", which she paid.

When Amy returned to Singapore, the representative asked for more money so the "shares" could be released. She told Abraham about it. He agreed to split the cost with her.

She went to Malaysia with cash on three more occasions to pay more "administrative fees", paying a total of $630,000. Back home, she made 14 bank transactions totalling $253,000.

By the end of November, she had given $883,109.

In December, when Amy had not heard from Abraham for a while, she called the home number he had given her. A woman claiming to be a housekeeper answered and said Abraham was dead.

The police Public Affairs Department director, Assistant Commissioner of Police Melvin Yong, said most that victims were aware of such scams.

"But because they think they're in a relationship, they don't believe that it would happen to them," he said, urging members of the public who notice their loved ones forming such "relationships" to either talk them out of it or encourage them to go to the police.


This article was first published on Jan 30, 2015.
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