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Singapore scam victims lost S$660.7 million in 2022

Photo showing an online scam victim sending credit number to scammer on a mobile phone.
Singapore scam victims lost S$660.7 million in 2022. (PHOTO: Getty) (celiaosk via Getty Images)

By Sandy Pramuji

SINGAPORE – Scam victims in Singapore lost S$660.7 million in 2022, up 4.5 per cent from S$632 million a year before, according to Singapore Police Force (SPF) data released on Wednesday (8 February).

Scams and cybercrime continue to be a key concern as the total of such cases increased by 25.2 per cent to 33,669 in 2022, in comparison with 26,886 cases in 2021. Scams accounted for 94.2 per cent of those in 2022. The total number of scam cases increased by 32.6 per cent to 31,728 in 2022, when compared with cases in 2021.

Young adults aged 20 to 39 formed the largest age group who fell prey to scams, making up 53.5 per cent of all victims in 2022, the data showed. The elderly aged 60 and above made up 8.8 per cent of scam victims in 2022.

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However, the SPF said, there were decreases in cases of loan and Internet love scams. There were 1,031 loan scam cases in 2022 – down 54.6 per cent from 2,273 cases in 2021. The number of Internet love scam cases decreased by 20.7 per cent to 868 in 2022 – there were 1,094 cases in 2021.

Top scams of 2022

SPF data shows that the top five scam types of 2022 are phishing scams, job scams, e-commerce scams, investment scams, and fake friend call scams. These five scam types made up 82.5 per cent of the top 10 scam types reported in 2022.

Pie charts showing breakdown of the number of different types of scam cases in 2021 (left) and 2022 (right).
Breakdown of scam types in 2022 based on the number of cases. (CHART: SPF)

Phishing scams generally involve emails, text messages or calls from scammers impersonating officials or trusted entities, to trick victims into revealing details, including credit card or bank account information. Scammers would then perform unauthorised transactions on victims' credit card or bank accounts.

Phishing scams recorded the highest number of reported cases among all scam types in 2022. There were 7,097 phishing scam cases reported in 2022, compared to 5,023 cases in 2021, according to police data. This is an increase of 41.3 per cent. About half of the victims (49.8 per cent) were aged between 30 and 49.

Young adults, aged 20-29, mostly fell victim to job scams. These typically involve victims being offered online jobs that could be performed from home. Victims would be asked to perform simple tasks like making advance purchases, liking social media posts, or reviewing hotels or restaurants. Initially victims would receive some commission, luring them into providing more funds, but eventually, would not be able to get their money back.

E-commerce scam has remained among the top five scams for four consecutive years. This type of scam generally involves the sale of goods and services online without delivery after payment is made.

There were 4,762 e-commerce scam cases reported in 2022, compared to 2,729 cases in 2021, an increase of 74.5 per cent. The most common platforms for scammers include Carousell, Facebook, and Shopee. Common items involved in the affected transactions were electronic goods, rental (residential unit) and gaming-related items.

Mostly perpetrated by scammers outside Singapore

The vast majority of online scams, police said, are perpetrated by scammers based outside Singapore, which made it difficult to investigate and prosecute.

"These scammers are typically part of organised criminal groups and run sophisticated transnational operations which are not easy to uncover or dismantle. Where monies have been transferred outside Singapore, recovery is very difficult," police said. "Nonetheless, SPF continues to work closely with foreign counterparts and partners such as the Royal Malaysia Police and Interpol, to exchange information and conduct joint investigations and operations against transnational scams."

Director of Commercial Affairs Department David Chew, said, "Fighting scams is a community effort. The Police will continue to work closely with other government agencies and private stakeholders to strengthen our public education and awareness efforts, to better protect the public against scams."

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