FAKE FRIEND CALL SCAM SYNDICATE CRIPPLED AND 12 ARRESTED IN JOINT TRANSNATIONAL SCAM OPERATION
In a joint operation conducted by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), and Johor Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) of the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP), officers conducted several raids in various premises in Johor, Malaysia and crippled one transnational scam syndicate allegedly involved in fake friend calls targeting Singaporean victims.
Since January 2023, more than 490 victims have fallen prey to the fake friend call scam, with total losses amounting to at least $1.7million.
The SPF and RMP collaborated and shared critical intelligence and information on the identities and operations of the criminal syndicate.
The enquiries, analysis and collaboration paid off when the Malaysian criminal syndicate that was operating in Johor Bahru, Malaysia was located.
On 10 February 2023, officers from CCID/RMP conducted simultaneous raids at three apartment complexes in Johor, Malaysia, leading to the arrest of one female and 11 male Malaysians, aged between 16 and 27, for their suspected involvement in fake friend call scam targeting Singaporeans.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the syndicate started their scam operations sometime in December 2022, and were using Singapore prepaid SIM cards to make calls to unsuspecting victims in Singapore.
The syndicate is believed to be involved in more than 360 reports, with total losses of more than $1.3 million. Investigations against the woman and 11 men are ongoing.
Simultaneously, officers from the Anti-Scam Command, CAD and seven Police land divisions arrested and/or investigated 12 men and 2 women, aged between 18 and 46, for their suspected involvement in aiding the criminal syndicate by laundering criminal proceeds in Singapore by handing over their personal bank accounts or relinquishing their SingPass accounts.
Investigations against the 14 persons are ongoing.
The offence of facilitating unauthorized access to computer material under Section 3 read with Section 12 of the Computer Misuse Act 1993 (CMA) carries an imprisonment term of up to two years, a fine, or both.
The offence of unauthorized disclosure of access code for any wrongful gain or unlawful purpose under Section 8 of the CMA carries an imprisonment of up to three years, a fine, or both.
Director CAD, Mr David Chew said, “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.
Apart from working on robust up-stream measures to disrupt the criminals’ lines of communication, the Singapore Police Force will continue to collaborate with our foreign law enforcement counterparts to detect and deter these transnational syndicates who prey on our citizens.
I would like to thank Director CCID, RMP Commissioner of Police, Dato’ Mohd Kamarudin Md Din, Johor Police Chief, Commissioner Datuk Kamarul Zaman Mamat and officers from the Johor Commercial Crime Investigation Department for their strong support and commitment in arresting transnational crime syndicates wherever they may seek to hide.”
The Police would like to remind members of the public to a persistent threat posed by this fake friend call scam variant, which involves scammers contacting victims through phone calls, pretending to be their friends, and thereafter asking for financial assistance.
The Police would also like to advise members of the public to adopt the following precautionary measures:
Beware of usual requests received from phones calls or messages, even if they appear to be from your family or friends; and
Verify whether the request is legitimate by checking with your family and friends through alternative means such as physical meet-ups, video calls or email other than using the contact details on your phone.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.
Exhibits seized (Photos credit – CCID RMP)