Singapore Gambling Scams Cost Victims $11.6m Since 2019 After Cases Skyrocket

  • The Singapore Police Force announced the $11.6m losses Sunday from a total of 299 scam cases
  • Scammers enticed victims into setting up accounts on fake gambling platforms with easy profits
  • Perpetrators risk a fine of up to SGD5,000 ($3,755) and a potential jail term of six months
  • Macau, Australia, and the UK have also seen gambling-related scams and fraud over the past year
Hooded "hacker" using a laptop
A substantial increase in gambling scams in Singapore over the last two years has seen victims lose a combined total of $11.6m. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Growing concern for Singapore police

A recent spike in gambling scams in Singapore has resulted in victims losing a combined total of SGD15.4m ($11.6m) over the past two years. The scams saw victims coaxed into opening betting accounts on fake gambling platforms.

the number of fake gambling platforms increased more than 18-fold

According to an announcement by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Sunday, the number of fake gambling platforms increased more than 18-fold from 2019 to 2020. Authorities registered a total of 299 cases in that span.

The fake gambling scams made up 83% of the 359 total consumer-targeting scams investigated by police during the period. The remaining cases related mainly to investment scams, which saw a 126% increase in the same time.

Luring in their victims

In its Sunday briefing, the SPF said gambling scammers often befriended their victims via online dating platforms. They then convinced them to access a fake betting application or website. The scammers often told victims they could earn easy profits through loopholes on the gambling platforms.

Once victims had deposited money in exchange for betting credits, the scammers froze their accounts. They then requested more money for the victim to access their account and claim their “winnings.” Once a victim deposited more money, the scammer ended all communication.

According to Singapore’s Remote Gambling Act, perpetrators of gambling scams such as these risk a fine of up to SGD5,000 ($3,755) and a jail term of up to six months. Altogether, police investigated 98 suspects connected to the 359 consumer-targeting scams.

The SPF is currently investigating 344 people for their involvement as scammers or money mules in around 607 total scam cases. In a Saturday announcement, the police said victims lost more than SGD9.84m ($7.4m) in the scams, which included a number of fake gambling platforms. The suspects’ ages range from 16 to 77.

An international problem

A number of other countries across the world have also seen recent gambling-related scams or fraud.

Earlier this month, fraudsters in a Macau casino cashed out HKD190,000 ($24,500) using fake casino chips. Authorities declined to name the property in question. After his arrest, one 51-year-old suspect admitted he purchased 150 fake chips online for a fee of CNY60,000 ($9,293). Police have yet to arrest the suspect’s partner.

a multimillion-dollar global sports betting scam

In Australia, police apprehended Peter Foster in August of last year for his involvement in a multimillion-dollar global sports betting scam. Allegedly, Foster offered to place wagers on behalf of investors using expert bettors. He then personally acquired the betting money which he laundered in New South Wales.

Meanwhile, in December 2019, the UK Gambling Commission warned the public about lottery-related scams and fraud. The national regulator advised UK residents on how to recognize the scams, which are typically prevalent over the holiday period. This guidance included checking payment details and avoiding operators that use exaggerated language.