SINGAPORE, Feb 19 — Singapore and Malaysia’s police have arrested 12 people in a joint operation involving several raids in Johor, as they busted a "fake friend call scam" syndicate that targeted Singaporeans.
Of the 12 people aged between 16 and 27, one is female while the remaining 11 are male Malaysians. Investigations against them are ongoing.
In the scam, a person pretending to be the victim’s friend will call to ask for financial assistance.
The syndicate is believed to be involved in more than 360 reported cases, with total losses of more than S$1.3 million.
Since January this year, more than 490 victims have fallen prey to such a scam, with at least S$1.7 million lost in total.
In a news release on Sunday (Feb 19), the police here said that the raids were simultaneously conducted at three apartment complexes in Johor.
Officers from the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) collaborated with their Johor counterparts to locate the operations of the syndicate.
Initial investigations found that the syndicate started its scam operations sometime in December 2022 and was using Singapore prepaid SIM cards to make calls to unsuspecting victims in the Republic.
Singapore police are also investigating 12 men and two women, some of whom have been arrested, for their suspected involvement in aiding the syndicate.
They are believed to have handed over their personal bank accounts or SingPass accounts.
If found guilty of facilitating unauthorised access to computer material, they may be imprisoned for a maximum term of two years, fined or both.
Those who are found guilty of unauthorised disclosure of access code for any wrongful gain or unlawful purpose can be jailed for up to three years, fined or both.
Mr David Chew, director of CAD, said that the police will continue to work with their foreign counterparts to detect and deter transnational syndicates that prey on Singaporeans.
“Scams are a serious and persistent crime concern. Transnational crime syndicates will adapt their approach vectors to get around the controls Singapore puts in place to prevent scammers from reaching victims in Singapore from overseas,” said Mr Chew.
The police advised members of the public to beware of usual financial requests even if they appear to be from family and friends, and to verify the requests through alternative means such as physical meet-ups, video calls or email. — TODAY