Reported S$15.4 million has been lost on fictitious gambling platforms in Singapore and victims now facing jail time and fines.
Singaporeans Fall Victims to Gambling Scams
Singapore is facing an influx of fraudulent online platforms connected with gambling and bogus investments, said the Singapore Police Force (SPF) this Sunday, reporting concerns that scams have increased 126% percent between 2019 and 2020, citing covid-19 as one of the reasons why.
This means an 18-time increase in the overall scam attempts and at least 1,102 scam investments amounting to S$69.5 million in lost funds. Another S$15.4 million was lost across 299 gambling platforms that scammed their users, the police cautioned.
Banks had to step in at least 200 similar cases between Wednesday and Friday, media reported, citing financial institutions that had taken up arms to clamp down on the fraudulent activities. Police are working with at least 98 victims who have been told to stop wiring money to unknown sources.
Most fake gambling scams succeed if victims are found online through dating platforms, the police have explained, and once contact is made, they are later introduced to various off-platform apps and websites that usually lead to loss of data.
However, the modus operandi of these scams is not to hack personal data, but rather to convince an individual to willingly transfer money for the purposes of investment. Interestingly, gambling scam platforms have been popular as well.
Deposit to Cash Out
Many websites just hosted a gambling service to accept funds from players and then, instead of crediting those funds in a balance, they simply pulled the plug on the platform or used it to dupe other players. If a victim wanted to cash out their winnings, they were asked to deposit more to release the existing funds.
Should culprits be identified and apprehended by authorities, they are facing up to 10 years jail time along with a fine of up to S$500,000. However, victims are not going to get away scot-free either. As per the country’s Remote Gambling Act, participating in unlicensed gambling platforms makes an individual liable.
Victims themselves may face up to six months in jail as well as a fine of up to $5,000, something that gaming platforms were probably aware when approaching Singaporeans. Police have repeated again that the type of investment victims have been trying to make is “high-risk” and it should have been run by a financial advisor before committing, authorities said.
Another thing gambling victims should have been done is to check in with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to see if particular entities have been blacklisted by the authorities or whether they have a license to authorize the type of investment they have been offering.
In honesty, however, the police acquiesced that many of the platforms that have successfully duped people have been designed to cleverly draw victims away from commonsense safeguards. Meanwhile, there have been reports of fraudulent activities elsewhere as well.