'Money mule' crimes on the rise in Singapore: Police

'Money mule' crimes on the rise in Singapore: Police

SINGAPORE - The number of residents in Singapore who have helped move or transfer stolen money has increased from last year, the police said.

Get the full story from The Straits Times.

Here is the full statement from the Association of Banks in Singapore, the Singapore Police Force and the National Crime Prevention Council:

The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) today cautioned members of the public against allowing their personal bank accounts to be used to receive funds that may be acquired illegally.

The recipients of such funds are usually asked to transfer the funds to other parties. The agencies warned that by doing so, individuals could be committing an offence under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act and face a fine of up to $500,000 and/or a jail-term of up to seven years. Non-individuals could risk a fine of up to $1,000,000.

The advisory comes in the wake of a rise in the number of such cases investigated by the Police.

In 2012, the Police investigated 93 cases involving up to $24.6 million of illegal monies. In the first nine months of this year, 133 cases with transactions amounting to $15.5 million were reported to the Police.

In many of these cases, residents in Singapore were actively sought by overseas fraudsters to act as "money mules". "Money mules" are individuals who receive money that is either stolen or fraudulently transferred, in their bank account. Money mules are typically asked to deliver this money to another person, either in cash or by electronic transfer through money remittance services or e-banking.

Among their many tactics, the crooks would most often befriend unknowing or vulnerable netizens - both old and young - through social networking websites by posing as lonely individuals searching for companionship and love. After establishing a relationship with their target, these fraudsters would insidiously convince their "friends" to use the latter's bank accounts to receive funds.

Another tactic used is to recruit netizens as the "Singapore representative" or "Singapore agent" for a so-called foreign company. The targets are then instructed to open personal bank accounts to receive funds, usually from online scams run in classified advertisement/ auction websites which the locals are not aware of.

Once money is received in the bank account, the targets would be asked to either transfer the money to another bank account (sometimes an overseas one), or withdraw the money and pass it on to a third party. These money mules were often enticed into such schemes by a "commission" offered for each transaction.

The ABS, SPF and NCPC have been working closely to fight these crimes through consumer education, such as issuing pamphlets to bank customers when they open an account.

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