The Anti-Scam Command (ASCom) was operationalised on 22 March 2022 to achieve greater synergy between various scam-fighting units within the Singapore Police Force (SPF), by integrating scam investigation, incident response, intervention, enforcement, and sense-making capabilities under a single umbrella. The command comprises the Anti-Scam Centre, three Anti-Scam Investigation Branches, and oversees the Scam Strike Teams situated within each of the seven Police Land Divisions.
The opening of the ASCom office was officiated by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications & Information and 2nd Minister for Home Affairs on 6 September 2022.
Strengthened Sense-making and Leveraging Technology
The ASCom focuses on upstream interventions to disrupt scammers’ operations and leverages technology to strengthen its sense-making capabilities. The ASCom proactively carries out online trawling and had provided advisories to more than 95,000 potential scam victims since 22 March 2022.
Close Collaboration and Enhanced Partnerships
The ASCom partners more than 80 institutions in the fight against scams. These include local and foreign banks, card security groups, non-bank financial institutions (e.g. Grab, Singtel DASH), Fintech companies and cryptocurrency houses (e.g. Wise, Xfers Pte Ltd and Coinhako), and remittance service providers in Singapore. Through establishing direct communications channels and close working relationships, the ASCom and its partners seeks to swiftly freeze accounts, recover funds and reduce losses suffered by victims.
On 2 May 2022, the ASCom worked with DBS Bank (DBS) to seize USD10 million, the largest amount recovered from a single case to date. The case involved a ‘Business Email Compromise’ scam, where a US-based victim was duped into making several large transactions amounting to USD14 million.
As part of the continued collaboration in combating scams, the ASCom and the Monetary Authority of Singapore worked with the banks to co-locate their staff within ASCom premises. Since 25 July 2022, six banks namely DBS, OCBC, UOB, SCB, HSBC and CIMB have come onboard to enhance real-time coordination with the Police in investigative efforts, tracing the flow of funds, and freezing bank accounts suspected to be involved in scammers’ operations. Since the co-location, proactive fund flow tracing into more than 40 scam cases has led to the seizure of more than $1.5 million from the bank accounts and e-wallets. The recovery rate is over 60% based on these cases. The co-location is a major move forward in augmenting SPF’s scam-fighting efforts. In addition, the Government Technology Agency has deployed staff at the ASCom to support Police investigations in scams related to Singpass. This facilitates faster sharing of information required for investigations and enables the SPF to leverage Singpass’ fraud analytics capabilities that identify and flag unusual account activities.
Agile Response in Advancing International Co-operation
As scams still predominantly originate from overseas, the ASCom will work closely with foreign law enforcement counterparts to detect and tackle emerging crime trends. For example, the ASCom’s good working relationship with overseas counterparts such as the Royal Malaysia Police has led to the eradication of seven transnational scam syndicates and arrest of 32 syndicate members since its operationalisation.
Maximise Effective Management of Scam Cases
The ASCom works with relevant units in SPF to target persons who facilitate scam-related activities, for example, money mules who assist in bank transfers, relinquish bank accounts and disclose Singpass and internet-banking credentials to the scammers. More than 60 such mules have been charged under the Computer Misuse Act 1993, Penal Code 1871 and Payment Services Act 2019 in the last five months.
Swift and Strategic Actions
Through the close collaboration with the newly set-up Scam Strike Teams in the seven land divisions, the ASCom is dedicated to taking swifter and more holistic actions to tackle scam cases that are currently plaguing Singapore and the world. Since March 2022, the ASCom had coordinated 12 operations, resulting in the arrest of more than 3,900 scammers and money mules.
As the number of victims falling prey to scams every year continue to be a concern, everyone has a part to play in keeping Singapore safe and secure, especially during these uncertain times. Members of the public can equip themselves to be aware of signs of scams and help to spread the word to their friends and loved ones to keep them from being scammed. Business operators such as banks, online marketplaces and telcos also have a responsibility to prevent, deter and detect crimes committed through their platforms. Putting in place anti-scam measures against crimes will also help business operators keep their customers safe. Together, we can help stop scams and prevent our loved ones from falling prey to scams.
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
06 September 2022 @ 8:20 PM