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Nine men and four women, aged between 18 and 56, have been arrested for their suspected involvement in a recent spate of rental scams.
The police said the suspects were arrested in an islandwide anti-scam enforcement operation conducted between Mar 9 and 13. Another three women, aged between 21 and 27 are also assisting in investigations.
The scammers would impersonate legitimate property agents and ask victims for payment to secure the rental of a unit before viewing the property as part of the scams.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the sixteen persons purportedly received illicit proceeds from rental scams in their bank accounts.
They allegedly allowed their bank accounts to be used to receive the illicit proceeds and withdrew the proceeds which were then handed to others in the syndicate for easy money.
Scam proceeds amounting to more than $1.3 million from 480 rental scam cases were dissipated via cash withdrawals from these bank accounts.
For assisting another to retain benefits from criminal conduct, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to $500,000 or both.
To avoid becoming involved in money laundering activities, the police advise members of the public to always reject requests to allow their bank accounts to be used to receive and transfer money for others.
The public should adopt the following precautionary measures when securing appointments to view properties:
ADD - ScamShield App and set security features (e.g., enable two-factor (2FA) or multifactor authentication for banks, social media, Singpass accounts; set transaction limits on internet banking transactions, including PayNow)
CHECK - for scam signs with official sources. Verify the legitimacy of a property listing via the following means:
Liaise with a property agent using only the agent’s phone number registered on CEA’s Public Register. Members of the public may check whether a property agent is registered with CEA by searching for the agent’s phone number on the CEA Public Register. If the search does not lead to the property agent’s profile page, it means that the property agent has not registered that phone number with the CEA and the listing is likely a scam.
TELL - authorities, family, and friends about scams. Report the fraudulent pages to the online platforms (for e.g. Facebook, Carousell, etc)
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.
Anyone with information on such scams may call the Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000 or submit information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.
All information will be kept strictly confidential.