ST Forum writer asks for tough measures to be imposed on online scammers

By December 11, 2019Current

TL;DR – Always guard your heart and your pocket.

Think you’ll never be a scam victim? Think again.

Because chances are that even if you think you know enough to protect yourself, it might be hard to prevent your loved ones from falling for it.

As such, Straits Times forum writer Mr Lawrence Sim is urging for the authorities to step up on efforts to stem the scamming tide and to impose tough measures on scammers when they get caught.

He goes on to explain that while victims of scams may get affected not just financially, it can impact them psychologically and emotionally as well.

Sim also pointed out that the younger generation is just as likely as the older generation to fall victim to online scams.

Here is his full letter,

According to the Singapore Police Force, online scammers cheated Singaporeans of more than $83.1 million from January to June. The number of cases and the amounts scammed have been rising steadily over the years.

I used to think that these scams happened only to other people, until my own family member fell victim to an Internet love scam.

Anyone can be hit by a scam, and stories, statistics and research have proven that the younger generation is just as likely as the older generation to be duped by ruthless online scammers.

Scammers hit us not only financially, but also affect us psychologically, emotionally and perhaps even spiritually. More importantly, the nation also takes an economic hit, and a united stand against these scammers must be taken.

I hope the Government can step up its education efforts to include money remittance agents, and impose tough measures on scammers when they are caught.

Lawrence Sim

In case you don’t already know, in response to a question on the plan to curb the increasing trend of scam cases filed by MP Melvin Yong, Home Affairs And Law Minister K. Shanmugam has shared the ongoing efforts by authorities in his written reply:

  • The Transnational Commercial Crime Task Force (TCTF) was formed in October 2017 to work closely with foreign law enforcement agencies to crack down on foreign syndicates targeting Singaporeans. It has worked with the Royal Malaysia Police and the Hong Kong Police in six joint operations on Internet love scams reported in the three jurisdictions, solving about 270 cases involving S$27.6 million. It also helped with the capture of two Nigerian scammers in Malaysia, who were brought to Singapore to face charges.
  • An E-Commerce Fraud Enforcement and Coordination Team (E-FECT) was set up in November 2018 to combat e-commerce scams. Since its formation, the E-FECT has arrested 54 e-commerce scammers and solved more than 920 e-commerce scams.
  • The police have also set up an Anti-Scam Centre (ASC) under the Commercial Affairs Department to disrupt scammers’ operations and minimise victims’ losses. The ASC works closely with the three major local banks – DBS Bank, OCBC Bank, and UOB, to freeze suspicious bank accounts that are detected to be involved in scams, and impede fund transfers involving such accounts.
  • Authorities are working with digital platforms to introduce scam prevention measures and disrupt scammers’ activities.
  • They are also working with telecommunications companies to swiftly terminate mobile lines used by scammers.

On top of these, the Police are also actively working with various stakeholders such as the media, convenience stores, remittance agencies, and banks, to raise their awareness of typical scams and especially new scams and help develop scam prevention measures.

But nevertheless, the primary responsibility to fight against scams should still lie with all of us.

So, let’s keep ourselves updated, stay vigilant and share the knowledge with our friends and loved ones!


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Gabrielle Teo

Author Gabrielle Teo

I read lots, and I also spend an indecent amount of time trying to get my mostly unpopular opinions published. Oh, I argue a lot with fellow Singaporeans who complain incessantly about Singapore too.

More posts by Gabrielle Teo

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