Singapore and Malaysia police bust transnational Internet love scam syndicate in joint investigation
SINGAPORE: Singapore and Malaysian police have jointly dismantled a transnational Internet love scam syndicate based in Malaysia, said the Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Sunday (Jun 27).
The joint operation was conducted by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the SPF and the Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) of the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP).
In a press release, SPF said a victim had lodged a police report in early February in which she claimed she could have fallen prey to an Internet love scam.
The syndicate is believed to be responsible for at least five other cases in Singapore involving S$64,000 in losses and eight other cases in Malaysia involving RM3.7 million (S$1.2 million) in losses.
VICTIM RECEIVED PARCEL CONTAINING HANDBAG, SHOES AND OTHER ACCESSORIES
SPF said the victim revealed that her online boyfriend, whom she had been together with for a year, had purportedly sent her a parcel containing a handbag, shoes and other accessories.
She later received a phone call from a purported Malaysian "delivery company", which allegedly requested for S$1,000 to be transferred to a bank account as delivery charges.
After making the transfer, the deliveryman allegedly claimed that he did not receive the money and asked for further payment in cash. He was unable to provide information on his company and address when the victim probed further.
The victim reported the case to the police when she sensed something was amiss.
MALAYSIAN POLICE CONDUCTED RAIDS IN KUALA LUMPUR, SEVEN ARRESTED
"Pursuant to the report, the Anti-Scam Centre of the Singapore Police Force carried out extensive investigative probes and sense-making," said SPF.
Through close collaboration and joint investigations with the CCID/RMP, a syndicate believed to be behind the cases was identified and established to be based in Malaysia.
On Jun 23, officers from the CCID/RMP conducted simultaneous raids at two locations in Kuala Lumpur. Six Nigerian men and a Malaysian woman, aged between 20 and 46, were arrested for their suspected involvement in Internet love scams and parcel scams.
Eight laptops, 17 mobile phones, three thumbdrives, two ATM cards, two modems, two Wi-Fi routers and two passports were seized as case exhibits.
In Singapore, a 57-year-old woman was arrested while a 34-year-old man was investigated for allegedly assisting the transfer of the syndicate's criminal proceeds.
The 57-year-old woman will be charged on Jun 29 for money-laundering. Investigations against the man are ongoing, said the police.
Anyone found guilty of acquiring or transferring criminal benefits under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Offences (Confiscation of Benefits) Act can face up to 10 years of jail, a fine of S$500,000 or both.
The director of Singapore's CAD David Chew thanked the director of CCID, Commissioner Mohd Kamarudin Md Din and his officers from the Intelligence and Operations Division of CCID for their "strong support and commitment in tackling cross border scams".
"To keep Singapore safe, the Singapore Police Force collaborates with like-minded international counterparts like the Royal Malaysian Police to deny criminals safe refuge. Law enforcement will find and bring them to justice, wherever they may hide," said Mr Chew.
SPF also advised members of the public to be careful when befriending strangers online.
"They should also be wary when asked to send money to bank accounts of people whom they do not know," said SPF.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.