In a joint operation conducted by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and the Johor Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) of the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP), a transnational scam syndicate allegedly involved in fake friend call scams targeting Singaporean victims was crippled in a raid conducted in Johor, Malaysia.
From January to November 2023, more than 6,300 victims have fallen prey to fake friend call scams, with total losses amounting to at least S$21.1 million. Pursuant to these reports, SPF and RMP collaborated and shared information on these scams. On 16 January 2024, officers from CCID/RMP conducted a raid on two apartments in Johor, Malaysia, leading to the arrest of five Malaysian men, aged between 19 and 36, for their suspected involvement in fake friend call scams targeting Singaporeans. Preliminary investigations revealed that the syndicate started their scam operations in June 2023. The syndicate is believed to be involved in more than 500 reports made, with total losses of more than S$1.4 million.
The five men were extradited to Singapore on 23 January 2024 and will be charged in court on 24 January 2024 for conspiracy to cheat under Section 420 read with Section 120B and Section 108B of the Penal Code 1871. The offence is punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine.
Director CAD, Mr David Chew said, “The Singapore Police Force has been working closely with the Royal Malaysia Police to detect and cripple these transnational scam syndicates who prey on our citizens. I would like to thank Johor Police Chief, Commissioner Datuk Kamarul Zaman Mamat and his officers from the Johor Commercial Crime Investigations Department for their strong support and commitment in tackling transnational crime syndicates. We will continue to take tough action against individuals who perpetuate e scams even if they are based overseas”.
The Police would like to remind members of the public of the persistent threat posed by this fake friend call scam variant and to be wary of phone calls from unknown numbers pretending to be their friends, and thereafter, asking for urgent financial assistance.
The Police would like to advise members of the public to adopt the following precautionary measures:
- ADD – ScamShield App and set security features (e.g., enable two-factor (2FA) or multifactor authentication for banks, social media, Singpass accounts; set transaction limits on internet banking transactions, including PayNow)
- CHECK – for scam signs with official sources (e.g. visit www.scamalert.sg or call the anti-scam hotline on 1800-722-6688). 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 new contact details on your phone.
- TELL – authorities, family, and friends about scams. Beware of unusual requests from someone purporting to be someone you know via texts or phone/WhatsApp calls. Report the number to WhatsApp to initiate in-app blocking.
If you have any information relating to such crimes or if you are in doubt, please call the Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. All information will be kept strictly confidential. If you require urgent Police assistance, please dial ‘999’.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800-722-6688. Join the ‘Spot the Signs. Stop the Crimes’ campaign at www.scamalert.sg/fight by signing up as an advocate to receive up-to-date messages and share them with your family and friends. Fighting scams is a community effort. Together, we can ACT Against Scams to safeguard our community!
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.