SINGAPORE — About half of all offenders related to scam cases who were arrested in Singapore are in their youth, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said on Tuesday (April 5).
“The number of youths below the age of 30 who were arrested for scam-related offences jumped from 237 in 2019, to 509 in 2020, before decreasing slightly to 493 in 2021,” he added.
These offenders “generally involved youths acting as money mules”, Mr Shanmugam wrote in reply to a parliamentary question.
Mr Melvin Yong, Member of Parliament (MP) for Radin Mas, had asked the minister on the number of young people who were caught for their involvement in scams last year as well as whether there was a rising trend of youth being involved in such crimes.
The MP also asked about what is being done to educate and prevent youths from being lured into joining scam syndicates.
In his reply, Mr Shanmugam said that the young offenders were lured by the quick and easy money that could be made through scams and scam activities.
“They either handed over control of their bank account, or disclosed their Singpass login details, to scammers, or carried out scam-related bank transfers themselves in exchange for a commission,” he wrote.
Mr Shanmugam added that the police have been working with schools and institutes of higher learning to raise awareness among youth on the consequences of crime through activities such as talks and crime prevention exhibitions.
In particular, the police have also been raising awareness specifically of the consequences of being involved in scam activities such as acting as money mules.
Mr Shanmugam said: “This is done through advisories and educational campaigns. For example, last year, the police collaborated with the National Crime Prevention Council to run a nationwide money-mule public education campaign.
“The topic of money mule was also exclusively featured in an episode of ‘Hello Police?’, which is a web-series published on social media platforms, to raise awareness on the legal consequences of acting as a money mule and the immediate steps to take if one suspects that he or she has been used as a money mule.”
He also stressed that the authorities would continue to work “with our stakeholders” to enhance outreach to the youth on the consequences of being involved in scams and other criminal activities.
Earlier in February, the police arrested 13 people aged between 19 and 22 for their involvement in a spate of high-profile phishing scams involving OCBC bank between December last year and January.
The scams led 790 OCBC customers to lose a total of S$13.7 million to the scammers.