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Young adults aged 20 to 39 most likely to fall for scams: SPF report

The top three methods scammers used to approach victims in 2022 were using messaging platforms, social media, and online shopping platforms.

Justin Hui

One of the oldest people on TikTok.

Published: 9 February 2023, 6:26 PM

Young adults were the most likely group to fall for scams last year, according to the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) Annual Scams and Cybercrime Brief 2022 released on Wednesday (Feb 8).

While those aged 40 and above fell prey most to phishing scams, young adults aged 20 to 39 were most often the victims of job scams. 

Such scams typically involve victims being offered online jobs that could be done from home, such as making advance purchases, liking social media posts, or reviewing hotels and restaurants. 

Victims would initially receive some commission, luring them into providing more funds, purportedly required to get more commission over time, said SPF. Eventually, the victims would not be able to get their money back. 

There were 6,492 job scams reported in 2022, an increase of 42.7 per cent from the 4,550 cases in 2021. Over 66 per cent of such job scam victims were aged between 20 and 39. 

Those aged 10 to 19 fell prey most to social media impersonation scams.

While there was a decrease in loan scams and internet love scams, the total number of scam cases increased by 32.6 per cent from 23,933 cases in 2021 to 31,728 in 2022. 

The total amount of money cheated from all scams also increased by 4.5 per cent to $660.7 million in 2022, up from $632.0 million in 2021.

Phishing scams most common scam in 2022

Phishing scams, job scams, e-commerce scams, investment scams, and fake friend call scams were the top five scam types of 2022. 

These five scam types made up 82.5 per cent of the top ten scam types reported in 2022. 

While phishing scams were the most commonly reported, more money was lost from other types of scams.

The $198.3 million lost to investments scams and $117.4 million lost to job scams made up almost half of the total amount lost to scams in 2022.

Approaching victims online

According to SPF, the five most common methods scammers used to approach victims were using messaging platforms, social media, online shopping platforms, phone calls and SMSes. 

The number of cases involving the use of messaging platforms rose from 5,095 in 2021 to 7,599 in 2022, with 56 per cent of the cases happening on WhatsApp and 36.1 per cent over Telegram

The number of scam cases where scammers contacted victims via social media increased to 7,539 in 2022, from 6,095 in 2021, with 59.6 per cent using Facebook, and 34.2 per cent on Instagram. 

Another contact method of concern is online shopping platforms. There was a sharp increase in the number of scam cases from 1,570 in 2021 to 4,818 in 2022. Carousell was the predominant shopping platform used by scammers, making up 89 per cent of such cases. 

Integrated approaches to tackling scam operations

On Mar 22, 2022, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) operationalised the Anti-Scam Command (ASCom) for greater synergy among various scam-fighting units. 

Beyond elements of the police force and GovTech, banks including DBS, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, UOB, CIMB and OCBC also stationed a member of staff at the ASCom to enhance real-time coordination and investigative efforts. 

Commercial affairs department director David Chew said: “Since the operationalisation of the Anti-Scam Command in March 2022, we have frozen more than 16,700 bank accounts, and recovered more than $146 million of scam proceeds in 2022 alone.”

The National Crime Prevention Council and GovTech also developed the ScamShield mobile app to identify and filter out scam messages using artificial intelligence, and block calls from phone numbers that were used in other scam cases or reported by ScamShield users. 

As of Dec 31, 2022, the ScamShield app has reported 7.4 million SMSes as potential scams, and more than 47,000 unique scam-tainted phone numbers have been blocked.

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