SINGAPORE – A total of 321 people are being investigated by the police over scams where victims lost more than $8.4 million.
The suspects – 196 men and 125 women aged between 16 and 75 – are believed to be involved in 578 cases, including Internet love, e-commerce and China officials impersonation scams.
In a statement released on Saturday (May 8), the police said the suspected scammers and money mules are being investigated for the offences of cheating, money laundering or providing payment services without a licence.
The probe comes after a two-week enforcement operation that ended on Friday.
As the authorities are still investigating, no arrests have been made so far, added the police.
The police advised members of the public to reject requests by others to use their bank accounts or mobile lines in order to avoid being an accomplice to crimes.
The penalty for aggravated cheating includes a fine and imprisonment of up to 10 years.
The offence of money laundering carries an imprisonment term of up to 10 years, a fine of up to $500,000, or both.
Those found guilty of operating a business providing any type of payment service in Singapore without a licence can be jailed for up to three years, fined up to $125,000, or both.
The number of scams reported in 2020 hit a record high, climbing 65.1 per cent from 2019, according to figures released by the police earlier in February.
The 15,756 reported cases of scams last year had pushed the overall crime rate to its highest since 2009, as scammers took more than $201 million from their victims.
E-commerce scams were the most commonly reported type of scam, with a 19.1 per cent increase to 3,354 reported cases compared with 2019.
Those with information on scams can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit information online at this link.