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Joint operation between police and banks staves off S$5.1 million in scam losses, prevents suicide attempt

Joint operation between police and banks staves off S$5.1 million in scam losses, prevents suicide attempt

Officers from the Anti-Scam Centre working together with the six banks during the four-day joint operation. (Photo: Singapore Police Force)

SINGAPORE: A joint operation between the police and six banks in Singapore helped prevent the loss of millions of dollars to scammers, and also stopped a suicide attempt by a victim who lost more than S$5,000.

The four-day operation was conducted by the Singapore Police Force's Anti-Scam Centre and six banks - CIMB, DBS, HSBC, OCBC, Standard Chartered Bank and UOB, the police said in a news release on Saturday (Nov 19). 

The police and the banks prevented losses of more than S$5.1 million from more than 1,100 victims during the operation from Nov 14 to Nov 17. 

Officers from the Anti-Scam Centre and the staff from the six banks conducted live interventions by analysing the fund flows of more than 90 bank accounts, which were surfaced in investment and job scam reports. 

Seven Police Land Divisions, along with the Anti-Scam Centre and the six banks, worked together to engage unsuspecting victims who were transferring money into the "scam-tainted" bank accounts, said the police. 

The victims were alerted that they could have fallen prey to scams, and were also advised to stop any further monetary transfers. 

The police said many of the victims only realised they were scammed after the authorities engaged and convinced them. 

Scam proceeds of more than S$1.5 million were seized, and the police further prevented losses amounting to more than S$5.1 million. 

SUICIDE ATTEMPT PREVENTED

The police also prevented a suicide attempt by a victim who was cheated in a job scam. During one of the phone engagements, a man became distressed when he realised he had lost more than S$5,000. 

He had borrowed money from his friends to fund his "job", said the police

"Sensing that something was amiss, police officers proceeded to the victim’s residence to check on him and managed to dissuade him from self-harm." 

HOW SCAMMERS WORKS

Victims of investment scams are often contacted via social media platforms and introduced to investment opportunities by scammers claiming to be financial professionals, said the police. 

"Once lured, the victims would be introduced to investment experts for sure-win investment recommendations." 

The victims would be enticed by the promise of easy earnings and transfer their money to bank accounts. In many instances, they would earn a small profit from the investment at the initial stage, which leads them to believe that the scheme is legitimate and lucrative. 

However, the victims would later be asked to pay administrative fees, legal fees or taxes in order to receive their profits. After the victims have deposited larger sums of money, the scammers would become uncontactable. 

Meanwhile, victims of job scams typically respond to job advertisements for quick cash on social media platforms and chat applications. 

They would then be told to order items from online platforms or provide online ratings for companies, purportedly to boost sales figures or improve the reviews of these businesses. 

Victims would pay for the items and tasks assigned to them by fund transfers to bank accounts. They would initially be reimbursed the full amount together with an attractive commission. 

When the scheme progresses to a point where victims have transferred large sums of money, the scammers would become uncontactable, leaving them empty-handed, said the police. 

The police advised members of the public to remain vigilant and be wary when receiving unsolicited offers of investment or job opportunities via social media platforms or chat applications. 

"Understand that investments with high returns will come with high risks, (and) always check with a licensed financial advisor before making any investment." 

The public was also advised not to be enticed by "jobs" that promise the convenience of working from home and unusually high salary for relatively easy responsibilities. 

"No legitimate business will require employees to utilise their own bank accounts to receive money on the business’ behalf." 

To avoid becoming involved in money laundering activities, they should always reject requests to use their personal bank accounts to receive and transfer money for others.

Source: CNA/lk(ac)

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