Police launch new community volunteer initiatives to combat online scams, Singapore News

Having worked with the Singapore Police Force (SPF) since 2008 on cybersecurity efforts both in Singapore and abroad, Dennis Chung did not hesitate to sign up for the new Cyber ​​Guardians on Watch (CGW) initiative.

Under the program, launched at the 2024 Police Work Plan Seminar on Friday (May 24), volunteers receive notices from the police, which they can then spread to others in their communities to raise awareness about online scams and other cyber crimes.

They are also educated to monitor online platforms and report any suspicious activity to the police.

Even with his professional experience, Chung, a 45-year-old security director at Microsoft, confessed that he had been the victim of an e-commerce scam before.

Ordered something online, but never received the item or a response from the seller.

Of volunteering as a CGW, he told reporters: “I wanted to raise awareness among my family and friends about these types of scams… and warn them to be careful.”

Any member of the public can register to be a CGW and receive updates on the latest scam and cybercrime trends through the Police@SG app.

In addition to CGW, SPF also unveiled another community initiative called Cyber ​​Crime Prevention Ambassadors (Cyber ​​CPA).

These ambassadors receive formal training from police on the latest online crime trends so they can engage and educate the community about cybercrime prevention through roadshows and other events.

Raja Sekaran, 57, said he has “seen it all” when it comes to data breaches, as he used to work in cybersecurity.

The practice director of an electronics company added: “Two years ago, someone I knew had his clients’ data hacked and deleted. completely. He wasn’t prepared enough and lost all the business from him.”

Sekaran became a Cyber ​​CPA to offer his expertise to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), as well as individuals seeking to protect against cybercrime.

Describing unsuspecting people as “easy targets” for scammers, who are constantly evolving, he noted: “Businesses, especially SMEs, are still not well equipped to handle data breaches and attacks.”. “How can we expect normal people to be prepared?”

More than 46,000 scam cases in 2023

There were 46,563 scam cases reported in 2023, the highest number since police began tracking them in 2016, The Straits Times reported in February 2024.

Between January and June last year, the number of scams and cybercrime cases increased by 69.4 percent compared to the same period. in 2022, according to a September 2023 police news release.

Of the 24,525 police reports made during those months, 91.1 percent were cases of fraud.

At the event, the police also announced that the operating hours of the National Crime Prevention Council’s anti-scam helpline will be extended to enable quick intervention in suspected cases of scam.

However, no details were given about the extension. Currently, the helpline operates from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

It will also be reduced from its current 11 digits to just four (1799) for easier remembering.

SPF is also studying a single portal that consolidates information from several existing anti-scam resources, making it easier for the public to find information and seek help about scams. It is expected to launch in the third quarter of 2024..

Police are also assessing the suitability of an autonomous police reporting chatbot, which uses generative artificial intelligence to help the public make more concise and informative reports.

READ MORE: 12 investigated for manipulating obscene photographs in extortion scam

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