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Despite repeated warnings, increasing numbers of people in Singapore are falling prey to scams. In 2022, there were 31,728 cases reported, a 33 per cent increase over 2021, with victims losing more than $660 million. More than half of them were between the ages of 20 and 39 – unsurprising, given that most scams occur online, targeting Internet users, a high proportion of whom are young. Scam victims often face not only financial losses, but also psychological trauma and mental health issues, which makes scamming a social problem.

There is a staggering variety of scams. The most common are phishing scams, where scammers deceive victims into revealing sensitive personal information, which is then misused to swindle money. Investment scams, in which people are lured into often fraudulent deals that offer astronomical returns, have led to the highest losses – $198.3 million in 2022. There are also job scams in which victims are offered easy-to-perform jobs such as liking social media posts for which they are offered commissions, but are then asked to make deposits to earn higher amounts, which are appropriated by the scammer. There were 868 cases of Internet love scams, where scammers feign romance to trick victims into paying them. Also common are e-commerce scams, in which people are offered products on shopping sites that do not get delivered. There are even scams involving the impersonation of government agencies such as the Central Provident Fund Board, the Land Transport Authority and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority. Some scammers have gone so far as to falsely link ministers, including the Prime Minister, to products sold online.

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