SINGAPORE: Singapore and Malaysian police have busted a cross-border love scam syndicate that is believed to have cheated its victims of more than S$240,000.
In a news release on Thursday (Feb 8), the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said that the joint investigation between them and the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) started in December last year.
This led to the arrest of two women and a man for their suspected involvement in several cases of Internet love scams in both Singapore and Malaysia.
The syndicate had allegedly relied on individuals in Singapore for the receipt and transfer of their criminal proceeds.
Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department further investigated six women and two men in January for allegedly using their bank accounts to receive funds from victims of online love scams linked to the syndicate.
During these investigations, CAD froze at least 21 bank accounts and recovered over S$50,000.
“The foreign criminal syndicates involved in the Internet love scam are targeting victims on both sides of the Causeway. The SPF will continue to collaborate closely with our counterparts from the RMP to eradicate these syndicates who attempt to use territorial boundaries and the anonymity of the Internet to fleece Malaysian and Singaporean victims," said CAD director David Chew.
Mr Chew added that the SPF will continue to have enforcement efforts abroad and in Singapore.
"In addition to our enforcement efforts abroad, the SPF will make every effort to detect and interdict their network of local money launderers who abuse our financial system to help the syndicates retain and repatriate their ill-gotten gains," he added.
Police said that there have been a 30 per cent increase in Internet love scams, from 635 cases in 2016 to 825 in 2017. The total amount cheated also jumped by 54 per cent, from about S$24 million in 2016 to about S$37 million in 2017.
If convicted, offenders face up to 10 years' jail, a fine of up to S$500,000, or both.
The Police also urge members of the public to be careful when befriending strangers online to avoid falling prey to online love scams.