Updated: 08/21/2014 00:30

18 arrested for cheating in relation to online scam

18 arrested for cheating in relation to online scam

Police have arrested 18 people for their suspected involvement in a rising online scam. 

They'd acted as money mules. 

A full-time national serviceman, who wants to be known as Ali, found himself $400 poorer after he fell prey to a Multiple Payment Online Purchase scam last month. 

He had chanced upon a Hari Raya clearance sale online. 

A white racing bike was going for $400.

In stores, the same bike would cost over $1,000. 

He was sold. 

Ali contacted the seller, transferred the money and waited for the bike to arrive. 

He never suspected that it was a scam as the seller had provided him a copy of his Identity Card, a local bank account number and a mobile number. 

" The only time I found it strange was when he started giving excuses - the delivery man was in Malayisa or he's in some part of Singapore that's very near but he's taking a long time. Few days after I bought the bike, he said the delivery man went missing with the bike."

Ali became suspicious after the seller blocked him on Whatsapp. 

"The IC picture he'd sent me was of a Civil Defence personnel. I asked my friend to help chase the person. He actually found the person. The person told him that he found a website where he was going to work online. Somebody will transfer money to him and then he'll transfer the money outside. He'd transferred the money to a Nigerian person."

He went to the police, who had bad news for him. 

They told him that so far, victims of the scam have not been able to recover any money. 

In the first half of the year, 302 such cases were reported. 

Police are currently investigating the 18 people they've arrested. 

They'd facilitated the crime by allowing the funds to be transferred in and out of their own bank accounts. 

Commander of Ang Mo Kio Police Division, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lian Ghim Hua explains how money mules are recruited. 

"One of the most common methods would be to offer them a job as a remittance agent. They'll have to receive funds transfer into their bank accounts and then do an en route remittance of portion of that money to the scammer and in return, they keep a proportion of the money as commission. In some cases, the money mules are victims of a love scam. They develop a relationship with the scammer and are asked to facilitate some internet funds transfers."

He advises the public to be wary of online offers which seem too good to be true, and to check the track record of the company and the seller. 

-By Valerie Koh

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