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Private Investigator Singapore - Asia Top investigation - Love Scam


by Asia Top Investigation

According to the Singapore Police Force (SPF) official website, there were almost 400 love scam cases reported in the first half of 2020. It is amongst the top 10 scam cases reported in 2020 amounting to SGD$13.4 Million loss with the largest scam amount of SGD$1 Million.




The number of internet love scam cases reported between January and March 2020 is a concern. Internet love scam cases increased by 33.6% (44 cases) to 175 cases between January to March 2020, from 131 cases in the same period last year. The total amount cheated decreased to at least S$6.6 million between January to March 2020, from at least S$7.1 million in the same period last year.


In these scams, victims typically befriended scammers on social media platforms or vice versa and developed relationships with them. This was despite the victims having never met the other party face to face before. From January to April 2020, Facebook and Instagram have consistently remained as the two most common platforms that victims have been approached on.


In most cases, the scammers claimed to have sent parcels containing luxury items or large sums of money to the victims from overseas, but the parcels were detained by the authorities. The scammers would then request the victims to make payments on their behalf in order to secure the release of the items.


To further convince victims that their claim was legitimate, scammers have also been known to enlist the help of an accomplice, who would claim to be a staff from a courier company or government agency, and inform the victim that the parcels had been detained for inspection by the authorities and that they were required to transfer money to local or foreign bank accounts for fictitious reasons such as taxes, fines or anti-money laundering charges. The victims were also threatened with the possibility of prosecution if they failed to send the money.


In other cases, the scammers would ask for money to be transferred electronically from the victims to help them overcome exigencies or financial hardships. Such requests would often take place multiple times, with the amount being requested often starting small, and progressively increasing as the scammers continued to build trust with the victims. Victims eventually realised that they were scammed, when the scammers became uncontactable. By then, they would often have already transferred large amounts of money to the scammers.


To avoid falling prey to these scams, members of the public are advised to be careful when befriending strangers online. They should also be wary when asked to send money to people whom they do not know or have not met in person before. If they are contacted by a stranger via the phone, demanding payment to a bank account in relation to government fines or charges, remain calm and stop communicating with him immediately, because this is most probably a scam.




WHAT IS AN INTERNET LOVE SCAM?

After befriending an attractive person (who is usually foreign) online, he or she tells a tale about falling into trouble or hard times. The scammer persists with the story to gain their victim's trust and adoration, then asks for money as proof of love. Once the money is transferred, the scammer disappears.



Recent Love Scam Articles In Singapore:

  1. Online romance scam: Woman loses $80,000, manipulated into becoming a money mule

  2. Internet love scams have increased in the first three months this year compared to 2019



As the Top Private Investigation agency in Singapore, Asia Top Investigations would like to advise you on how to spot Love Scams and avoid them.



Tell-tale signs of a Love Scam:

  • Professes their undying love very quickly after making contact with you

  • Goes to great lengths to gain your interest and trust with loving words, and even offers to send you gifts

  • Gives excuses whenever you ask for a video call

  • Sudden stories of misfortune and requests for money to help them out

  • Sends you a huge LOVE pack consisting of luxury items including cash


What you should do if you suspect a Love Scam:

  • Do not send money to anyone you have not met in person

  • Verify the identity of the person you are talking to with an online image search, here: https://images.google.com/

  • Always ask for a LIVE video call with the person



Some examples of Love Scams in Singapore:


In 2019, it was reported that a female IT manager in Singapore, who was rebounding from a breakup, decided to look for love online. That’s when she met a diamond dealer who claimed to be working in the United States. They would chat every day. He told her about his mother’s passing and how lonely he felt. He sent her love poems along with selfies of himself. The relationship seemed … too perfect.



The man then asked her for S$7,000 to pay the customs fee for his diamonds. She made the transaction without hesitation. He then asked her for more money. The rose-tinted glasses of a new love cracked as suspicion arose. She reported it to the police and was lucky enough to get her money back from the bank. However, not many love scam victims share such luck.



Love scam usually takes place on social media sites and messaging apps such as Facebook, Instagram, WeChat and Tinder. It is not always done by one person. Syndicates are also involved in such scams.



They may even study their targets beforehand in order to understand the victims better and targeting them at their most vulnerable. For example, after a breakup, divorce or other tumultuous events in their life. So, be selective in what you post on social media!



In late 2020, The National Crime Prevention Council asks Singaporeans to ‘Spot the Signs’ of Online Love Scams.



As most victims are embarrassed, this issue is rarely talked about freely. So it is important that you stay educated on the techniques love scammers use and prevent this from happening to yourself or your loved ones.



If you suspect that you or your loved ones are being targeted by a love scammer, feel free to contact Asia Top Investigation.



If you’d like to learn more on private investigation related knowledge, feel free to check out our other articles here. We've also written an article on how to hire a PI agency in Singapore here.




ASIA TOP INVESTIGATION LLP

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Email Address: vt@asiatopinvestigation.com

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