The main types of online scams here

Multiple payment online purchase scam

Criminals posing as sellers of electronic gadgets such as smartphones cheat victims by failing to deliver the goods purchased. They then ask for further payments on the pretext that delivery orders had been mixed up. Victims typically accede to the request for further payment but end up not receiving the items.

The payments by victims are also quickly transferred out of local bank accounts to overseas bank accounts which makes the tracing and return of funds much more difficult.

Internet purchase scam

Similar to the multiple online purchase scam, but without the requests for additional payments.

Paypal e-mail scam

Online sellers are cheated after receiving fake "Paypal" payment notification e-mails from scammers posing as buyers.

In these cases, scammers claiming to be from overseas place orders with an online seller. The scammers select "Paypal" as the payment option and send fictitious e-mails, supposedly from "Paypal", to notify the victims that payment has been made. This prompts the seller to send the items ordered to addresses overseas.

In addition, the scammers may send further e-mails supposedly from "Paypal" requesting "administrative" payments to be made via local bank account transfers or remitted to overseas accounts.

There were variations in some cases, where victims received fictitious e-mails from "Citibank" instead of "Paypal". The victims end up without payment for the items sent out.

Internet love scam

This involves suspects who mostly claim to be from Britain, targeting women searching for love online through dating or social networks.

Once the suspect befriends the victim, he claims that he is coming to Singapore to ask for the victim's hand in marriage.

On the supposed day of arrival, the suspect calls the victim and claims he has been detained by Customs for carrying excess cash.

The victim is asked to transfer money to secure his release.

In another variation, the suspect claims to be sending a parcel containing valuable items such as branded bags and watches. The suspect then asks the victim to transfer money to clear penalty charges imposed on the items. Very often, victims are asked to make several payments.

Cyber extortion

These typically involve female suspects attempting to extort money by threatening to post compromising photos or videos of victims, mostly males, following an online cybersex session during which victims are coaxed into undressing and performing indecent acts in front of a webcam.

It is all recorded on video and the males are blackmailed thereafter. In most cases, the suspects are believed to be based overseas.

This article was published on Aug 14 in The Straits Times.

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