Anti-scam TV commercial launched

The first of three new television commercials on how the public can protect themselves from scams was launched yesterday.

It aims to remind the public about how scammers often manipulate victims' emotions, desires and weaknesses to make a successful transaction.

The commercials are being rolled out by the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) as part of a nationwide public education campaign started last year.

At an event to launch the first commercial yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was the guest of honour, said Singaporeans lost more than $10 million to scams last year.

Statistics released by the police in January this year showed that the crime rate went up by 7.4 per cent last year, largely due to a spike in the number of cheating cases involving e-commerce, such as online purchase scams.

The first commercial is aired on all local TV channels and features cyber extortion and lottery scams, which are among the top 10 scams in Singapore.

The number of reported cyber extortion scam cases last year - 257 - was more than double the 108 cases in 2013. The amount lost in such scams grew to $145,000 last year, up from $56,000 the year before.

Lottery scam cases have also increased. The number of cases rose to 304 last year, from 213 in 2013.

The second and third TV commercials, which cover money mules and online purchase scams, will be broadcast later this year, the NCPC and SPF said in a joint statement.

NCPC chairman Tan Kian Hoon said Internet scams are often very difficult to detect or act against because of anonymity.

His advice: "Remain calm, do not act on impulse and always exercise caution when you interact or transact with strangers, especially those you meet online."

This article was first published on May 24, 2015.
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