Even amid a pandemic, PNSmen like CPL (NS) Muhammad Haziq Bin Azmi continue to do their part to keep scams at bay.

Singapore’s physical crime rate may have dropped in the last year, but we need to remain vigilant against different forms of illegal activities. Scams, in particular, have risen in frequency, as criminals exploit the public’s fear and sense of uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. And as more individuals and businesses go online, scams have also become multi-faceted, with social media impersonation and e-commerce scams as some examples we see in our increasingly digital society. In the first half of 2020, the total amount lost to the top 10 scam types increased to $82 million, up by more than 90 per cent during the same period in 2019. Credit-for-Sex scams amounted to over $1.3 million and in sums as large as $50,000.

WHAT IS A CREDIT-FOR-SEX SCAM?

Singapore’s physical crime rate may have dropped in the last year, but we need to remain vigilant against different forms of illegal activities. Scams, in particular, have risen in frequency, as criminals exploit the public’s fear and sense of uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. And as more individuals and businesses go online, scams have also become multi-faceted, with social media impersonation and e-commerce scams as some examples we see in our increasingly digital society. In the first half of 2020, the total amount lost to the top 10 scam types increased to $82 million, up by more than 90 per cent during the same period in 2019. Credit-for-Sex scams amounted to over $1.3 million and in sums as large as $50,000.

PHOTO: scamalert.sg

WORKING THE GROUND

In fighting the rise of scams, Bedok Police Division deploys PNSmen to the hotspots of such scams — such as ATM tellers and AXS machines — to spot would-be victims and help them realise the ruse, as well as educate the public on such activities. CPL (NS) Muhammad Haziq Bin Azmi was one of the PNSmen who kept a lookout at these hotspots, and through his vigilance, successfully thwarted two Credit-for-Sex scams. In both incidents, CPL (NS) Haziq spotted the potential victims loitering around an AXS machine. After engaging in conversation with them, he realised that they had been enticed to make payment at the self-service terminal. The first person promptly heeded CPL (NS) Haziq’s advice and did not make payment. The second individual was reluctant to listen at first. Despite anti-scam posters nearby and a scam pop-up warning on the screen, the person sought to continue with the payment procedure. Thankfully, a determined CPL (NS) Haziq managed to convince the person to abort the payment before it was too late.

SERVING THE COMMUNITY COMMENDABLY

CPL (NS) Haziq had mixed feelings when he first received the assignment. While the task was interesting, it required him to remain at a single location for an extended period of time. However, after his first successful intervention, CPL (NS) Haziq gained resolve and a new perspective on the community engagement he was able to have. “It felt good knowing that I had prevented the victim from losing a substantial amount of money,” he says. “This spurred me on to continue my task of preventing other victims from falling prey to scams. My deployment was also meaningful in that I could educate the wider public about such kinds of criminal activity.”

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