Fake Gambling Platforms Increase Resulting In More Scams

Singapore has seen a rapid spike in the number of fake gambling platforms operating within their jurisdiction. According to police statistics, fake gambling scam cases increased by more than 42% between 2019 and 2020. As well as this, fake investment scams registered a 126% spike in the same period. It is now a major concern for the Singapore Gambling Authority; they have set out to eradicate this problem as soon as possible.

A Singapore skyline at night.

Singapore is known for its gambling scene; however residents of the country are forbidden from participating in offshore betting. ©Pexels/Pixabay

Different types of scams have become increasingly profitable for fraudsters across the continent. In Singapore alone, at least S$69.5 million was lost in over 1,100 separate investment scams and another S$15.4 million in 300 fake gambling platform scams. The police have developed a new task force with the technological capabilities to counteract this growing issue.

The fraudulent activity came to the authorities’ attention after SPF’s Anti-Scam Centre and several banks intervened in more than 200 cases in less than 2 days. The involvement of large government and privately owned firms brought much-needed media attention to the scandal. People considered to be vulnerable to these scams have been provided with much more information on how to avoid it.

SPF’s Anti Scam Centre working alongside the Singapore Police Department carried out a 3-day operation which involved the live intervention by analyzing the fund flow of scam victims. Officers then got in touch with the victims, many of whom were unaware they had been scammed. They were advised to stop any further money transfers with the site in question.

On top of this, the police were able to draw up a list of suspected organizations and individuals involved with the scamming operations. All of the suspects are aged between 17 to 59, each of them facilitated syndicates by opening bank accounts or transferring money for these groups.

How are these Scams Carried out?

To better understand how to avoid scams similar to the cases listed, it is important to know how conmen carry out scamming their victims. Individuals will often claim to be ‘financial experts’ using dating apps as their hub to cultivate enough potential victims. They’ll use these messenger services to introduce people to investment websites or other mobile apps.

They’ll ask victims to invest money into banks “mainly based in Hong Kong and China”, further along, the line they’ll convince the victim to pay administrative fees, security fees, or taxes to increase the potential profit. Victims often earn an initial profit, luring them into a false sense of security. Once the victim begins to deposit larger sums of money into the scammers’ accounts, they will completely ghost their victims and become unreachable.

The scammers play a manipulation game with their victims who are often craving attention or excitement, making them easy targets for conmen to exploit. In some cases, the scammers will convince people that their fake online betting platforms have loopholes, giving them better odds, thus increasing their profits.

To place bets, the victims must open an account with the platform and deposit money into a bank account exchanged for betting credits. Once this has taken place, the scammers will freeze the account and ask the victims for more money to cash out their winnings. After the transfer takes place, they will once again become unreachable and completely deactivate the website.

Victims are Liable

After further investigation, police revealed that victims of fake gambling platform scams who have opened betting accounts and placed bets are liable for offences under the Remote Gambling Act. Offshore gambling is indefinitely illegal in Singapore, and as the fake organizations are all based in Hong Kong and China, victims are liable for breaking the law. If they are convicted, they may be fined up to $5,000, jailed for up to six months or both.

Police advise members of the public to be very careful when befriending strangers on any social media or dating platforms. They should also “understand that investments with high returns come with high risks” and should “always check with a licensed financial advisor before making any investment”. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has an archive of blacklisted investment entities.

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