“Why do the con artists succeed time and again? It is because they know they can exploit the ignorance, vulnerability or very often, the greed of their victims. Con artists often succeed because people hear the promise of easy money and they throw caution to the winds. They do not ask themselves questions, let alone do due diligence on the offer.”
Mr Tan Siong Thye, Director of Commercial Affairs Department, 2004
Online Romeo / Juliet Scam
“Honey, I love you. I’ve even given you my most intimate photos and told you everything about myself. Surely you can trust me?”
1) Singapore residents are befriended by members of foreign criminal syndicates on social networking websites. The scammer will pose as a lonely individual (usually with a fabulous photo and profile) seeking companionship and love. They may claim to be in some form of financial situation and request for help. They may also claim to be detained by the authorities and request for financial assistance. The victims will usually be asked to transfer a sum of money to a foreign bank account. After the scam victims have transferred the money, the scammers may promise to meet up, sometimes for an intimate encounter but never show up.
2) Sometimes, after gaining their trust, the criminal will request the Singapore resident to open a new bank account or use existing bank accounts to receive money sent from overseas. If the Singapore resident has no bank account, he will be asked to open one. When the money has been received in the bank account, the account owner will be asked to send the money to another person or to a company, usually overseas.
3) The criminal will usually claim that:
a) He (or she) is operating a business in a foreign country, and he does not have a bank account in that country;
b) Someone, usually a client or a relative, will be sending money;
c) The assistance of the Singapore resident is needed to receive the money in Singapore, and thereafter remit the funds to the syndicate member or his business partner in the foreign country;
The Singapore resident could also be asked to withdraw the money in cash and to hand the cash to the syndicate member or his associate in Singapore. Whatever the method, the money received in the bank accounts of these Singapore residents are the proceeds of crime. By receiving and transferring criminal proceeds, you are an abettor of money laundering and can be charged in court.
Oh no, I think I’m in an online relationship with an internet love scammer. What should I do ?!
What should you do?
Be aware that anyone, including criminals, can hide behind attractive photos and identities of other people or fictitious entities.
Be wary of strangers who want to befriend you online and start asking for money
Do not remit or transfer money to people whom you do not know well enough
Do not give your particulars or bank account details to persons you do not know or have met only over the Internet
Don’t let the criminal syndicate fool you into believing that you have developed a romantic relationship.
Be mindful that giving your bank account details to someone else allows them to misuse your account for criminal purposes.
Ignore or decline any request by online acquaintances for fund transfers.
Be sceptical of the reasons offered by your online acquaintances for using your account to transfer money.
If you have received money in your bank account under the circumstances outlined above, alert CAD and your bank immediately. If the money is still in your bank account, do not deal with it. Report the matter to CAD and to your bank.
Anyone who assists fraudsters to move stolen money may be liable for criminal offences whether or not there was monetary benefit.
Call the Police immediately at ’999′ to report the case.
(*Materials adapted from Commercial Affairs Department, Singapore and ThreatMatrix.com)
Our Best, Always
Empower Advisory Team
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