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Thursday, July 25, 2024
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M’SIANS WHO TARGETED S’POREANS IN “FAKE FRIEND SCAM”, ARRESTED & EXTRADITED TO S’PORE

In a significant joint effort, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Royal Malaysia Police have successfully dismantled a syndicate involved in “fake friend” call scams that specifically targeted Singaporeans, according to Channel NewsAsia.

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The collaboration resulted in the arrest of five Malaysian men, aged between 19 and 36, with raids conducted in Johor on January 16. Preliminary investigations suggest that the syndicate, operational since June, is responsible for over 500 police reports and losses exceeding S$1.4 million (US$1 million).

Johor Raids and Arrests

The Malaysian police executed raids on two apartments in Johor, apprehending five individuals linked to the “fake friend” call scam syndicate. The arrested men were between the ages of 19 and 36. Following their arrest, the individuals were extradited to Singapore on Tuesday to face charges related to conspiracy to cheat.

The syndicate, active since June, has left a trail of victims, accumulating more than 500 police reports and causing losses surpassing S$1.4 million. The scale of the scam underscores the sophistication and audacity of transnational criminal networks exploiting unsuspecting individuals.

ILegal Consequences for the Scammers

The five men extradited to Singapore will face charges of conspiracy to cheat, a crime that carries potential penalties of up to 10 years of imprisonment and fines if found guilty. The legal actions signal a commitment by law enforcement agencies to hold individuals accountable for their involvement in e-scams, even if they operate across borders.

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From January to November 2023, “fake friend” call scams ensnared over 6,300 individuals, resulting in total losses exceeding S$21.1 million. The alarming numbers highlight the escalating threat posed by such scams and the need for continued vigilance and preventive measures.

The collaboration between SPF and the Royal Malaysia Police has proven pivotal in addressing transnational cybercrime. Mr. David Chew, director of SPF’s Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), expressed gratitude to the Johor police for their unwavering support and commitment in tackling these syndicates. He underscored the ongoing collaboration to detect and dismantle such transnational scam operations preying on citizens.

Public Awareness and Prevention Measures

SPF seized the opportunity to remind the public about the persistent threat of “fake friend” call scams. To prevent falling victim to such schemes, the police advised individuals to take precautionary steps, including installing the ScamShield mobile app, setting transaction limits for internet banking, and enabling two-factor authentication.

In the face of evolving scams, SPF encouraged the public to stay vigilant and adopt proactive measures. Checking for scam signs on official sources, using the Scam Alert website, calling the anti-scam helpline, and verifying requests through alternative means like physical meet-ups and video calls were emphasized as essential precautions.

The successful dismantling of the “fake friend” call scam syndicate serves as a testament to the effectiveness of international collaboration in combating cybercrime and protecting citizens from the scourge of e-scams. As technology evolves, so too must the collective efforts of law enforcement agencies to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.

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