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Singapore and US pledge to combat online scams in cross-border cooperation

Government agencies from the two nations will exchange insights on scams and collaborate on enforcement initiatives, including technical and policy solutions.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor
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Singapore and the United States have pledged to work together to combat online scams, which have been growing in volume on both sides and resulting in significant losses.

Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority and the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to bolster cross-border efforts in fighting unsolicited and unlawful communications, including scams.

Also: What is phishing? Everything you need to know to protect yourself from scammers

The two government agencies will collaborate in regulatory enforcement activities related to scams as well as exchange information across areas, such as regulatory frameworks and technical and policy solutions related to unsolicited and unlawful communications in Singapore and the US. 

These will add to current efforts to work with other regulators to deal with scams that target communications channels, such as mobile messaging and calls, and enhance anti-scam measures in the two countries. 

"By working together and sharing strategic insights on scams, IMDA and FCC aim to combat the growing threat of scams, thereby, mitigating the risk that citizens and businesses face from fraudulent activities," the agencies said in a joint statement Thursday. 

IMDA's chief executive Lew Chuen Hong further underscored the importance of international collaboration in addressing online scams, which went beyond borders. He added that the latest cooperation was an extension of existing ties between both countries, as part of their efforts to boost digital security

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said: "Robocall scams do not respect international borders and are a problem for consumers and businesses around the world. It is critical that we work closely with partners like our colleagues in Singapore who share our commitment to fight robocall scams and unmasking the bad actors behind them."

Singapore saw a 25.2% climb in scams and cybercrimes last year, hitting 33,669 reported cases, up from 26,886 in 2021. Scams accounted for the bulk, cheating victims of SG$660.7 million ($501.9 million), a 4.5% increase from SG$632 million in 2021, according to the figures from the Singapore Police Force (SPF). 

Also: Diverse threat intelligence key to cyberdefense against nation-state attacks

Phishing, e-commerce, and investment scams were among the five most common tactics used against victims, making up 82.5% of the top 10 types of scams last year. Phishing cases topped the list, with 7,097 reported cases in 2022, up 41.3% from 2021. 

The US also saw an upward trajectory in online fraud and scam losses, which tipped at $10.3 billion last year, revealed the FBI's 2022 Internet Crime Report. The bureau's Internet Crime Complaint Center recorded 800,944 complaints, with phishing schemes leading the pack and accounting for 300,497 complaints. 

But losses from phishing scams clocked at a lower $52 million compared to investment fraud, which led to losses of $3.3 billion, up 127% from the previous year. Specifically, cryptocurrency investment fraud grew from $907 million in 2021 to $2.57 billion in 2022, where complaints came mostly from victims aged between 30 and 49. 

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