SINGAPORE – A transnational syndicate that scammed Singaporeans using fake friend calls has been crippled following a joint operation with Malaysia police, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said in a release on Sunday.
The operation on Feb 10 was conducted by the Singapore Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and Johor Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) of the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP), and involved raids in Johor and Singapore.
The syndicate is believed to be involved in more than 360 reports, with over 490 victims and total losses of more than $1.3 million.
Preliminary investigations showed that the syndicate started its scam operations around December 2022. Singapore prepaid SIM cards were used to make calls to unsuspecting victims in Singapore, and the scammers pretended to be their friends and asked for money.
The syndicate was located after the SPF and RMP collaborated and shared critical intelligence and information on its operations and the identities of its members.
Officers from CCID RMP conducted raids at three apartment complexes in Johor on Feb 10 in the joint operation, leading to the arrest of one woman and 11 men for their suspected involvement in the fake friend call scam targeting Singaporeans.
The suspects, all Malaysians, are aged between 16 and 27, and investigations against them are ongoing.
At the same time in Singapore, as part of the joint operation, officers from the anti-scam command, CAD and seven police land divisions arrested and/or investigated 12 men and two women for their suspected involvement in aiding the syndicate.
The suspects, all Singaporeans, aged between 18 and 46, laundered criminal proceeds in Singapore by handing over their personal bank accounts and relinquishing their SingPass accounts.
Investigations against the 14 people are ongoing.
The offence of facilitating unauthorised access to computer material carries an imprisonment term of up to two years, a fine, or both.
The offence of unauthorised disclosure of access code for any wrongful gain or unlawful purpose carries an imprisonment of up to three years, a fine, or both.
Director of CAD 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.”
He added that the SPF will continue to work with foreign law enforcement counterparts to detect and prevent transnational syndicates from preying on Singaporeans.