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SPF and RMP dismantles cross-border scam syndicate targeting Singaporeans

Police forces in Singapore and Malaysia join forces, dismantling a transnational “fake friend” scam syndicate. Five arrested, facing charges, as both nations intensify efforts against cross-border cybercrime.

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SINGAPORE – The Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Royal Malaysia Police have successfully dismantled a transnational syndicate involved in “fake friend” call scams targeting unsuspecting Singaporeans.

The crackdown resulted in the arrest of five Malaysian men and the extradition of the suspects to Singapore, where they will face charges of conspiracy to cheat.

The SPF, in a press release on Tuesday (23 Jan), disclosed that the Malaysian police conducted raids on two apartments in Johor on 16 January, leading to the apprehension of the five suspects aged between 19 and 36.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the syndicate commenced its fraudulent operations in June of the previous year, allegedly orchestrating more than 500 scams that resulted in cumulative losses exceeding S$1.4 million (US$1 million).

The five individuals are set to be charged with conspiracy to cheat on Wednesday (24 Jan), and if found guilty, they could face imprisonment for up to 10 years and fines.

The successful collaboration between the SPF and Malaysian police underscores the commitment to tackling cross-border crime syndicates, particularly those preying on Singaporean citizens.

From January to November 2023, “fake friend” call scams have escalated, with over 6,300 individuals falling victim to these scams, leading to losses totaling at least S$21.1 million.

The recent joint operation is a significant step in curbing the rising trend of such scams, demonstrating the resolve of law enforcement agencies to protect citizens from the scourge of online fraud.

Mr David Chew, Director of SPF’s Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), expressed gratitude towards the Johor police for their unwavering support and commitment to tackling transnational crime syndicates.

He emphasized the close collaboration between the Singapore and Malaysian authorities in detecting and dismantling such syndicates that operate across borders.

“The Singapore Police Force has been working closely with the Royal Malaysia Police to detect and cripple these transnational scam syndicates who prey on our citizens,” stated Mr Chew.

“We will continue to take tough action against individuals who perpetuate e-scams even if they are based overseas.”

The “fake friend” scams typically involve scammers reaching out to victims through text messages or phone calls, posing as someone known to the victim and seeking financial assistance.

SPF has issued a reminder to the public about the persistent threat posed by such scams and urged them to exercise caution when receiving calls from unfamiliar numbers.

To prevent falling victim to these scams, the police have advised the public to take proactive measures. This includes installing the ScamShield mobile app, setting transaction limits for online banking, and enabling two-factor authentication.

Furthermore, individuals are encouraged to verify requests with family members and friends through alternative means such as physical meet-ups and video calls.

To raise awareness and protect the public, SPF continues to promote vigilance and adherence to preventive measures. The police are urging citizens to stay informed about potential scams through official sources like the Scam Alert website and to promptly report any suspicious activity to the anti-scam helpline.

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