SINGAPORE: Thirteen people suspected of being involved in two transnational scam syndicates were arrested during a joint operation conducted by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP).
The syndicates were involved in money laundering activities and were "crippled" as a result of the arrests, SPF said in a news release on Tuesday (Aug 16).
Nine of the arrests were made following raids carried out in Malaysia by officers from SPF's Commercial Affairs Department and RMP's Commercial Crime Investigation Department.
The other four arrests were made at the same time by Commercial Affairs Department officers in Singapore.
Since July this year, the two police forces have shared critical information based on findings from reported scam cases, SPF said.
Through close collaboration and joint investigations, the syndicates believed to be behind the money laundering cells were identified to be based in Kuala Lumpur and Johor.
MORE THAN S$1.3 MILLION LOST
On Aug 10, officers from both forces conducted simultaneous raids at two apartment complexes in Kuala Lumpur and Johor.
Two Malaysian women and seven Malaysian men, aged between 19 and 39, were arrested for their suspected involvement in cross-border money laundering.
The scam syndicates are believed to be linked with reports in Singapore involving more than 60 victims of investment scams, job scams, fake gambling platform scams, sexual services scams, sextortion, government officials impersonation scams and loan scams, SPF said. The losses totalled more than S$1.3 million.
"Preliminary investigations revealed that the two syndicates are believed to have targeted Singaporean, Malaysian, Thai and Indonesian victims and laundered their criminal proceeds in Malaysia," said SPF.
In Singapore, officers from the Commercial Affairs Department's Anti-Scam Command arrested two men and two women, aged between 18 and 49, for their suspected involvement in aiding a money laundering syndicate by handing over their personal bank accounts or relinquishing their Singpass accounts.
Another 24 people are assisting the police in their investigations, said SPF, adding that investigations against the Singapore suspects are ongoing.
CRIMINAL OFFENCE TO ABUSE SINGPASS, BANKING ACCOUNTS
Commercial Affairs Department director David Chew urged members of the public to steer clear of job offers that involve the abuse of their Singpass or bank accounts.
"Cyber-enabled scams continue to be an area of serious concern. The Internet continues to be used to deceive victims as well as recruit money launderers, often with promises of quick monetary returns," he said.
"I strongly urge ... the public to stay away from the lure of easy money by responding to jobs that involve the abuse of your Singpass or bank accounts.
"It is a criminal offence to abuse your Singpass and banking facilities at the behest of such criminals."
Mr Chew added that firm action will be taken against money mules in Singapore who sell details of these accounts to crime syndicates or knowingly participate in the laundering of their proceeds of crime.
Mr Chew also thanked his Malaysian counterparts for their "strong support and commitment in tackling transnational crime syndicates that target victims in Singapore and abroad".
Under the Computer Misuse Act, the offence of facilitating unauthorised access to computer material carries a jail term of up to two years, a fine, or both.
The unauthorised disclosure of access codes for any wrongful gain or unlawful purpose is also punishable under the Act, with offenders facing a jail term of up to three years, a fine, or both.