The police have made some headway in beating online scams that cheat victims of their money, but some Internet cons are proving stubbornly resistant. While commercial crime decreased by 0.6 per cent overall, Internet love scams hit an all-time high last year with 636 cases, up from 385 in 2015. The total amount cheated was also the highest by far at $24 million – double the $12 million victims were fooled into giving in 2015. The largest amount from a single victim was $1.7 million. In most Internet love scams, offenders befriended their victims on social media or online chat apps, charming their way into these strangers’ lives before making off with their money.
Commercial crime, which counts Internet love scams, e-commerce cheating and other impersonation scams, are crimes that deceive victims into handing over goods or money through forgery and impersonation. But with public education and cooperation from international agencies, anti-scam efforts bore fruit in other areas, the police said in a press conference yesterday. E-commerce cheating decreased from 2,239 cases in 2015 to 2,105 last year. Victims lost $1.5 million compared with at least $1.9 million in 2015. A scam which surfaced in April last year in which conmen pose as officials from China to dupe victims into remitting money has also tapered off.