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Scam cases rise by 50%, most done through FB, IG and Whatsapp

Scam cases rise by 50%, most done through FB, IG and Whatsapp

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The total number of scam cases in Singapore has increased to 46,563 cases in 2023, from 31,728 cases in 2022. In fact, job scams recorded the highest number of cases reported at 9,914 while eCommerce scams took second place with 9,783 cases reported. Each represent about 21% of the total number of scams reported.

Other popular scam types include fake friend call scams, phishing scams and investment scams.

Don't miss: Maybank Singapore tackles scam prevention with a dose of humour

These were the results of Singapore Police Forces’ (SPF) annual scams and cybercrime brief that also highlighted that despite the rise in scams in 2023, the average amount lost per scam case for all reported scam cases has decreased, by 32.8% from SG$20,824 in 2022 to SG$13,999 in 2023.

“Three products from Meta – Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram – are of particular concern and continue to be over-represented amongst the platforms exploited by scammers to contact potential victims and conduct their scams,” said SPF in the report.

More specifically, social media was the most popular contact method between scammers and victims rising from 7,539 cases in 2022 to 13,725 cases in 2023. Of the cases that used social media as a contact method, 71.7% of the cases used Facebook while 18.5% used Instagram and 4.1% used TikTok.

Among the scam cases where scammers contacted victims through Facebook, 41.5% were eCommerce scams, 15.8% were malware-enabled scams and 12.0% were job scams.

The number of scam cases where scammers contacted victims through messaging platforms also increased to 12,368 in 2023, up from 7,599 in 2022, with about 68.0% of the cases being done via WhatsApp, and 26.5% via Telegram.

Among the scam cases where scammers contacted victims via WhatsApp, 51.6% were job scams.

Scam Victim Profile

The report also revealed that 73% of scam victims were youths aged 19 and below, young adults aged 20 to 29, and adults aged 30 to 49.

Adults made up the largest proportion of the victims at 43.1% of the cases. In fact, 24.6% fell prey to eCommerce scams, 22.3% fell prey to job scams and 14.3% fell prey to phishing scams.

The second largest group were the young adults at 24.6% of the cases. Of the young adults, 31.9% fell prey to job scams, while 25.9% fell prey to eCommerce scams and 10.6% fell prey to phishing scams.

Young seniors aged 50 to 64 were the third largest group who made up 19.9% of scam victims with a majority or 28% falling victim to fake friend call scams.

In an attempt to control the number of scams with the rise of AI, Singapore is developing new tools to better detect deepfakes and to counter misinformation. The tools will be designed under a new SG$20 million initiative to build a safer internet, titled "Building an inclusive and safe digital society". 

Minister for communications and information Josephine Teo revealed the initiative in Parliament on 10 January, in which she shared her concerns surrounding deepfakes, scams and other online risks. 

"Our digital way of life has exposed us to new risks. Cyber-attacks, scams and harmful content pose a growing threat to our safety and security," said Teo. "As many MPs have noted, trust in society - [which is] so crucial for normal human interactions - could be undermined." 

Teo also added at the time that Singapore has a need to grow new capabilities to keep pace with scammers and online risks.

Related articles:
Singapore to develop tools to detect deepfakes and reduce online risk
Study: AI-powered deepfakes see 1530% increased usage posing a threat to cyber security
Naomi Neo partners MHA for comedic video educating Singaporeans on scam prevention

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