SINGAPORE - Online scams rose sharply in the first six months of the year, according to crime statistics released by the police on Wednesday.
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The police released the following mid-year crime brief today:
CRIMES SHIFT ONLINE
In the first six months of 2014, 10-year lows were recorded in Housebreaking, Theft and Related Crimes. However, Cheating involving E-Commerce recorded an increase in number of cases reported. As a result, overall crime increased by 213 cases (+1.4 per cent) to 15,219 cases as compared to 15,006 cases over the same period last year.
The police would like to highlight four key crime concerns, namely:
a. Cheating involving E-Commerce; b. Cyber Extortion; c. Serious Hurt; and d. Rape.
Cheating involving E-Commerce increased in the first half of this year. In particular, two scams (Multiple Payment Online Purchase Scam and Paypal Email Scam) registered significant increases.
Apart from Cheating involving E-Commerce, Internet Love Scam also registered a significant increase.
Cyber Extortion forms the majority of the increase in attempted extortion and extortion cases. The total amount cheated increased from at least $22,000 (Jan-Jun 2013) to at least $57,000 (Jan-Jun 2014).
Efforts in Raising Awareness of Online Crimes
With the continued upward trend of online crime, Police has expanded our outreach efforts to reach out to the online community using digital advertorials, articles and videos. These are posted on various online networks such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other popular websites.
Police have also created a microsite to educate the public on various types of scams. This microsite is constantly updated to include new scams that emerge.
As the majority of the perpetrators of such scams are overseas and the monies are usually transferred to overseas bank accounts, Police will continue to share available information with our foreign counterparts to crack down on such activities.
In Internet love scams, the relatives and/or friends of potential victims play an important role in preventing the victims from falling prey to these culprits. If anyone learns that their relative or friend is a potential victim of a love scam, he should advise the person to make a police report.
Director of Commercial Affairs Department, Mr. Tan Boon Gin said: "The latest statistics show a distinct shift to crimes being perpetrated online. The most effective way to combat this is through crime prevention. In addition to our public education efforts, we will be studying the crime patterns to see how we can work with online platforms and financial institutions to remind users about online scams at the most opportune moments of a transaction."
In particular, Serious Hurt cases reported at construction sites registered an increase of 6 cases (+37.5 per cent) from 16 cases (Jan-Jun 2013) to 22 cases (Jan-Jun 2014).
Police will continue to work with the Ministry of Manpower and our stakeholders to educate foreign workers on Singapore's laws including those that pertain to the consequences of causing serious hurt to others through fights.
The rise in the overall Rape statistics is largely attributed to an increase in the number of Statutory Rape cases involving female minors under 14 years of age who had consensual sex. Statutory Rape cases registered an increase of 17 cases (+73.9 per cent) from 23 cases (Jan-Jun 2013) to 40 cases (Jan-Jun 2014).
The culprits in the majority of these Statutory Rape cases are youth offenders and known to the victims. All stakeholders, including schools, parents, media and the community have an important role to play in educating our youths against under-age sex. Families are encouraged to observe any changes in the behaviour or activities of their young members and to get to know the friends they hang out with.
Unlicensed moneylending & harassment cases decline
In the first half of this year, we continue to see improvements in the unlicensed moneylending (UML) and harassment situation. There was a decline of 1,494 unlicensed moneylending (UML) and harassment cases (-31.6 per cent) from 4,729 cases (Jan-Jun 2013) to 3,235 cases (Jan-Jun 2014).
In harassment cases, the number of cases with damage to property fell by 1,841 cases (-57 per cent) from 3,229 cases (from Jan-Jun 2013) to 1,388 cases (from Jan-Jun 2014).
Following the success of the inaugural nationwide Anti-UML Public Education and Awareness Campaign that was launched on 30 Nov 2012, the Police and the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) have planned for a second campaign in 2014/2015. While the first campaign had focused on raising awareness of the general public, the second campaign aims to target two specific groups - potential borrowers to dissuade them from borrowing from UML by highlighting the perils of doing so and potential harassers to deter them from committing UML crimes by emphasising the stiff penalties involved.
In addition, the Police are working with banks on a pilot trial to terminate the ATM and Internet banking facilities of persons who are convicted of, or administered with a stern warning in lieu of prosecution, for assisting UML syndicates. We are also working with the Registry of Moneylenders and mobile service providers to terminate the telephone lines that are used by the unlicensed moneylenders to send advertisements.
Deputy Director of the Criminal Investigation Department, Assistant Commissioner of Police (AC) Florence Chua said: "The tough laws enacted, coupled with the concerted effort by the Police and strong community support, have enabled us to continue to make good progress in tackling the loansharking problem in Singapore. Police will continue to work closely with our partners and relevant stakeholders to explore ways to tackle the loansharking problem upstream."
CREATING SOCIAL BUZZ TO FIGHT CRIMES
Police will continue to work hand in hand with the community and key stakeholders to raise awareness of crime, especially those committed on the internet.
Director of Public Affairs Department, Assistant Commissioner of Police (AC) Melvin Yong said: "The internet makes many everyday tasks faster and more convenient, like shopping, banking, research, and communicating on the go. But even the most tech-savvy need to understand that not everything we see on the internet is true and people on the internet may not be who they appear to be. Crooks use clever schemes to defraud millions of people around the globe every year. They often combine sophisticated technology with age-old tricks to get people to send money or give out personal information. The challenge is to find a way to quickly spread information and alerts on scams so that we can prevent the next victim from falling prey. I believe the best vaccine against online scams is to immunise our community through public awareness, to get as many people as we can to talk about the scams."
To keep updated with the latest crime and modus operandi, members of the public are encouraged to follow our Police Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/SingaporePoliceForce and the Police Twitter Page at www.twitter.com/SingaporePolice.