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  • I-Witness
Published 19 February 2024
3-min Read

Scams and cybercrime continue to be a key concern, but we can better protect ourselves by staying informed and exercising caution!

By: Ng Yun Shiean and Mike Tan

One scammer looking at monitor screen

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) released its Scams and Cybercrime Brief for 2023 this week, covering the key scam- and cybercrime-related trends for the past year. Here are three things you should know about it!

Top 10 scams of concern
The top 10 scams of concern for 2023.

1. Scams and cybercrime continue to be a key concern
The number of scam and cybercrime cases increased by 49.6% to 50,376 in 2023, compared to 33,669 cases in 2022. Scams (including malware-enabled scams) accounted for 92.4% of the 2023 cases, with the total number of scam cases increasing by 46.8% to 46,563 in 2023, from 31,728 cases in 2022. Job scams, e-commerce scams, fake friend call scams, phishing scams and investment scams also remain the top five scam types of concern in 2023.

Top 5 contact methods and scam victim profile
The top five contact methods employed by scammers, as well as who they target.

2. Scammers tend to reach out to victims through social media, messaging platforms, phone calls, online shopping platforms and other websites 
In 2023, scammers commonly reached out to victims through the five channels noted above. Three products from Meta – Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram – are of particular concern and continue to be over-represented amongst the platforms exploited by scammers. As for scam victims, 73% were youths, young adults and adults aged below 50.

Key anti-scam enforcement operations conducted by the SPF in 2023
Key anti-scam enforcement operations conducted by the SPF in 2023.

3. The SPF will continue to fight scams through enforcement, engagement and education
The SPF has taken tough anti-scam enforcement actions against scammers and money mules. In 2023, the Anti-Scam Command (ASCom), together with the Scam Strike Teams in the seven Police Land Divisions, conducted 24 island-wide anti-scam enforcement operations, leading to the investigation of more than 9,600 money mules and scammers.

Working with stakeholders to combat scams
The SPF has worked proactively with public agencies and private sector stakeholders to prevent scams and stop or mitigate losses during ongoing scams, as well as to raise public awareness on anti-scam measures.

The ASCom has also expanded its partnerships to more than 100 institutions (comprising local and foreign banks, debit/credit card security groups, fintech companies, cryptocurrency houses and remittance service providers) to facilitate the swift freezing of accounts and recovery of funds to reduce victim losses. This is achieved through establishing direct communications channels and close working relationship with these partners. In 2023, the ASCom froze more than 19,600 bank accounts based on reports referred to the Anti-Scam Centre (ASC) and recovered more than $100 million.

WOG and private stakeholders' efforts to fight scams
How collaborations with public agencies and private stakeholders are helping to fight scams.

We can all play a part in fighting scams and cybercrime
The SPF will continue to work with government agencies and community partners to engage and educate the public in building the community’s vigilance and resilience towards scams. Individual vigilance also remains crucial. By staying informed and exercising caution, we can better protect ourselves and each other against scams.

“Scams will continue to evolve, so a discerning and vigilant public is essential,” said Mr David Chew, Director of the SPF’s Commercial Affairs Department. The Police will continue to work closely with stakeholders and other government agencies to safeguard Singapore against scams.”

Annual Scams and Cybercrime Brief 2023
To learn more about the Annual Scams and Cybercrime Brief 2023, download the Brief and its related infographics.

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