Internet love scams up 65%, overall crime rate down 2.6% last year: Police Singapore

SINGAPORE – Love cheats on the Internet fooled their victims into parting with $24 million last year, although the overall crime rate went down by 2.6 per cent.

In 2016, crimes in seven categories, such as violent or serious property crimes, housebreaking and related crimes, and theft and related crimes, registered a 30-year low, said the police at an annual crime briefing on Friday (Feb 10) morning.

The number of violent or serious property crimes fell from 299 in 2015 to 248 in 2016, a decrease of 17.1 per cent, while housebreaking and related crimes saw 285 cases, a 16.2 per cent decrease from 340 in 2015.

There was a 9.5 per cent fall in theft and related crimes, to 14,127 in 2016 compared to 15,615 the previous year.

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While commercial crimes decreased by 0.6 per cent thanks to anti-scam efforts, public education, as well as international cooperation with foreign law enforcement agencies, police said there are still three areas of concern – e-commerce cheating, Internet love scams and China officials impersonation scams.

There were 636 Internet love scams cases last year, up from 385 in 2015. The total amount cheated in 2016 stood at $24 million.

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In most cases, offenders befriended victims on social media or online chat apps and charmed their way into their lives, then cheat them of their money.

Cheating involving e-commerce saw a drop of 134 cases with 2,105 cases last year where victims lost $1.5 million. There were 2,239 such cases in 2015.

The China officials impersonation scams, where victims were duped into remitting money by offenders who claimed to be Chinese authorities, were first uncovered in April last year. In eight months, there were 487 such cases that saw victims hand over $23 million.

Credit-for-sex scams, which were among the crimes that caused a spike in 2015’s crime figures, also fell 33.8 per cent last year.

Police added that 2016 saw 135 days free from crimes such as snatch theft, housebreaking and robbery. This is 31 days more than the previous year’s figure.

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