Home Cryptocurrency Police reports of cryptocurrency scams jumped over 5-fold to 631 last year since 2019

Police reports of cryptocurrency scams jumped over 5-fold to 631 last year since 2019

by Lottar

SINGAPORE – Reports to police of cryptocurrency scams jumped more than fivefold from 2019 to 631 last year, with the “vast majority” of these scams perpetrated by criminals based overseas.

In the same period, the amount of money lost by migrant workers here due to various types of scams rose from S$4.5 million in 2019 to S$24.9 million in 2021.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said 125 reports of cryptocurrency scams were made in 2019. The number rose to 397 in 2020 and 631 last year.

“The vast majority of cryptocurrency scams are perpetrated by scammers based outside of Singapore. As such, there is a limit to how much law enforcement agencies can do in Singapore,” he added.

The authorities’ ability to solve these cases will depend on the level of cooperation from overseas law enforcement agencies, as well as their ability to track down the scammers, Mr Shanmugam wrote.

“Where the money has been transferred overseas, recovery is even more difficult.”

Mr Melvin Yong, Member of Parliament for Radin Mas Single Member Constituency, asked about the number of cryptocurrency scams reported annually over the past three years.

He also asked if there was an increasing trend towards scams, as well as what was being done to combat the crime.

In his response, Mr Shanmugam said the police established a cryptocurrency task force in 2018 to “monitor the cryptocurrency landscape, develop and improve operational procedures in investigations and seizure of cryptocurrencies, and working relationships with overseas law enforcement agencies, professionals in industry, to establish, and academic experts”.

It also works closely with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which regulates entities that trade in or facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrencies here.

However, Mr Shanmugam noted that the best defense against such crimes is a “discerning public” and that the authorities have stepped up public education efforts here to educate the public about cryptocurrency-related scams.

“Since 2017, MAS has consistently warned that cryptocurrencies are not suitable investments for the general public, given their highly volatile prices and speculative nature,” he said.

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