WEEK 8-Cyber Crimes in Singapore

Last week, we covered internet security in class and I was most intrigued by those famous hackers like Kevin Mitnick. They have very competent computer skills but resort to crimes to showcase their talents. A famous case in Singapore took place in 2013, where a computer hacker who called himself ‘The Messiah’ carried out a series of cyber-attacks on major government websites in Singapore like the People’s Action Party’s Community Foundation, the Ang Mo Kio Town Council, the Prime Minister’s website and the blog of The Straits Times reporter Irene Tham.

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In this digital age, cyber crime is so prevalent that even the most secure networks or sites are no longer foolproof. Other than ‘The Messiah’, online commerce crimes have been on the rise due to the convenience of e-commerce.

Massive discounts on products, exclusive online offers etc are scams that victims easily fall prey to on platforms like Carousell-a mobile marketplace app, Gumtree-an online classifieds site and Facebook.

This convenience has inevitably allowed scammers to post fake listings on their profile and demand payments from victims before the goods are even received.

Many victims fall prey to the attractive offer and don’t realise that these offers are too good to be true. Only after they have made payment and realised the seller has gona missing do they find out that they have been scammed. By the time they realised, it’s already too late.

E-commerce cheating have been on the rise and many of the cases involved purchases of mobile phones or tickets, just like what is illustrated above.

Apart from online commerce crimes, many victims also fall prey to internet love scams, dazzled by the promises made by the cheat. A notable case in Singapore was when ‘Mary’, an administrator in her 50s, remitted 1.2 million to a cheat she met on Facebook. To consistently remit money to ‘Tom’, her ‘love interest’ from America who was an engineer and investor, Mary resorted to taking out unsecured loans from banks, and her insurance. Eventually, she lost all of her savings and ended up in a huge debt.

These are but some of the examples of cyber crimes in Singapore. As of this year, Singapore’s crime rate rose up by 4% in 2015, and this is mostly driven by cybercrime. Governmental agencies have been increasing public’s awareness of such crimes by displaying posters and transmitting related information and advertisements through media outlets.

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These posters advocates public’s knowledge of such crimes and aim to reduce the number of cyber crimes in Singapore. Even though Singapore is considered a safe country by many, we should never let out guards down because everybody is vulnerable to cyber crime in this day and age.

To end off, here is a video by Night Owl Cinematics, teaching the public to identify scams before it’s too late and to not fall prey to such crimes!