Crime in Singapore remained low but scams still a significant concern in 2016: MHA
Singapore remains a safe and secure home as crime remained low and the overall crime rate fell in 2016, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs' (MHA) overview of last year's safety and security situation.
In its report released on Wednesday (Feb 8), MHA said the number of violent and housebreaking crimes, as well as theft, went down as compared to 2015.
It described the overall drug situation as stable, with a slight fall in the number of drug abusers arrested.
The number of immigration offenders arrested remained low, while the number of persons arrested for harbouring and employing immigration offenders fell.
There were fewer fire fatalities and injuries and Singapore's roads also saw lower number of fatal accidents and fatalities last year.
MHA, however, warned that several trends remain a concern.
While the number of commercial crimes decreased slightly, it said scams involving e-commerce, Internet love and China officials impersonation were of a significant concern.
The number of new drug abusers has increased, with close to two-thirds of all new abusers aged below 30.
More elderly pedestrians were involved in fatal accidents, while the number of ambulance calls remain on the rise.
The various Home Team departments are set to issue their annual statistics reports in the coming week, which will expand on the trends highlighted in MHA's overview.
The threat of a terrorist attack also featured high on MHA's agenda. It urged the public to be alert and prepared, and for Singaporeans to stay united and rebound quickly.
Citing the launch of SGSecure on Sept 24 last year, MHA reiterated its call to action for the community to help prevent a terrorist attack.
"We aim to have at least one Prepared Citizen in every household. We have reached out to more than 34,000 households to help them learn how to protect themselves and their families, and how to recognise and report suspicious behaviour or items," MHA said.
MHA also highlighted the launch of the SGSecure mobile app, which has been downloaded by over 210,000 mobile devices to date, and its efforts to spread the SGSecure message in schools.
Since last May, MHA has reached out to 40 secondary schools via the SGSecure mobile exhibition and school assembly talks.
A customised SGSecure-oriented learning resource for primary schools has also been produced for roll-out in 2017.
Bogus Grab and Uber promotional deals cheat victims of at least $7,700
At least nine reports of people being cheated into buying bogus packages passing off as private-hire car service promotional deals have been made to the police since last week.
The total amount scammed was at least $7,700, police said in an advisory on Wednesday (Feb 22).
Victims were introduced to cheap "Grab/Uber promotional packages" through friends who had come across the advertisements by word of mouth.
They were then asked to contact the seller via online messaging app WhatsApp and were instructed to transfer money to bank accounts to buy the packages.
However, after making payments, victims were not able to redeem the rides and the seller became uncontactable.
The police advised the public to purchase rides only from the official sources and to be careful when purchasing items at prices that sound too good to be true.
When in doubt, consumers can call the anti-scam helpline at 1800-722 6688 or visit https://www.scamalert.sg.
'Can you hear me' scam could be next trick swindlers bring to Singapore
The phone rings, and when you answer, you are greeted by a voice that briefly introduces themselves or the company they work for.
The person then says: "Can you hear me?"
To reassure the caller, your first instinct is to say: "Yes"
Unbeknownst to you, your answer has been recorded. And while it may seem like just an innocent "yes", the con artist on the other end of the line has got some very sinister plans for it.
Several reports in the UK are warning against such scams, which have emerged in the US recently.
According to The Independent, the recording of your voice can be used as verbal agreement to a contract you are not even aware of.
Verbal contracts are used by many companies conducting legitimate business, but swindlers who use such tactics will trick their victims into paying for products and services they never asked for. When the victim refutes their claims, they will use the recording of their victims saying "yes" as proof, and threaten to take legal action if payment is not made.
Mail Online also reported that the swindlers could use the voice recording to authorise use of stolen credit cards.
So far, scammers have conned people in Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia with this tactic, the tabloid reported.
A spokesperson from call blocking service company CPR Call Blocker told UK media that the best way for people to prevent such scams was to disconnect such calls when asked "Can you hear me?". Alternatively, you can choose to ignore calls if you do not recognise the number that is calling.
Marriott warns consumers of phone scam offering free hotel stay
If you get a call from someone claiming to a offer free stay at a Marriott hotel, hang up.
Marriott International has released a statement warning consumers of fraudulent phone calls being made in different parts of the world, where the caller offers a complimentary stay at a Marriott hotel in exchange for personal information, or the purchase of a product or service unrelated to the Marriott brand.
"If you receive a suspicious telephone call, especially for a contest you did not enter, we urge you not to provide any personal information, especially credit card information," says Marriott.
"Instead, simply end the phone call."
At least 53 credit-for-sex scams reported in 1st half of March, $304,000 scammed since January: Police http://str.sg/476C