8,600 scam reports involving S$52m received by Singapore anti-scam centre in first year

Singapore's Anti-Scam Centre is the nerve centre for investigating scam-related crimes. — Singapore Police Force pic via TODAY
Singapore's Anti-Scam Centre is the nerve centre for investigating scam-related crimes. — Singapore Police Force pic via TODAY

SINGAPORE, July 31 — Within one year, the Anti-Scam Centre of the Singapore Police Force received more than 8,600 reports of scams, with a total of around S$52 million (RM67.8 million) lost to these scams.

Out of this sum, about 40 per cent was recovered, amounting to more than S$21.2 million.

The centre revealed these figures yesterday as it marked its first year of operation since it was set up on June 18 last year.

The biggest amount that the centre has managed to recover to date was more than S$6.4 million, in mid-March. The case involved a French pharmaceutical company that was deceived into transferring the equivalent of S$10.2 million to a Singapore bank account as payment for a large supply of surgical masks and hand sanitiser.

In a media briefing for the Anti-Scam Centre's first-year anniversary, Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC) Aileen Yap said that these results reaffirmed the “close partnership” between the police and various stakeholders, adding that reducing scam-related crimes is a “community effort.”

The Anti-Scam Centre, comprising eight investigation officers, is the nerve centre for investigating scam-related crimes, where its focus is to disrupt scammers' operations and help mitigate victims' losses, the police said in a news release.

When the centre was first established, it started an initiative with three major Singapore banks — DBS, OCBC and UOB — to freeze bank accounts as well as retrieve account holders' particulars and bank statements once unusual banking activities have been detected.

The Anti-Scam Centre later extended this initiative to collaborate with eight other banks. In its first year of operation, the centre froze more than 6,100 bank accounts.

The centre helps to intercept and recover transferred money within the day of its transfer.

In order to enhance its work processes, the centre makes use of various forms of new technology.

For instance, it uses technology to detect islandwide scam trends by making sense of the immense data that it handles each day.

The centre also works to raise awareness of scams through public education, including training bank officers and community groups to spot signs of scams, as well as holding roadshows for the public.

“Moving forward, the Anti-Scam Centre will continue to strengthen our detection capabilities, as well as enhance our collaboration with more stakeholders and foreign law enforcement agencies,” DAC Yap said. — TODAY

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