Singapore to join efforts and protect consumers against scams 

By Sol Gonzalez

The Global Anti Scams Alliance has launched its first Asian chapter to combat scams and frauds in Southeast Asia. 

Center right: Mr Tan Kiat How,Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development. Centre left: Mr Rajat Maheswari, chairman of GASA Singapore chapter and vice president, Cyber & Intelligence, Mastercard. Executive committee members from Google, META, OCBC, Feedzai, Rajah & Tan Technologies, Mastercard, MediaCorp, NTU, ST Engineering, and Amazon. Image: Amazon.

Imagine thinking that you have struck the perfect deal on a new smart TV online, only for the product to never be delivered to you.  

It is after your payment vanishes into cyberspace that you realise you have been scammed.  

This happens more commonly than one would expect - in the past two months, almost 600 people have fallen victim to scammers on e-commerce sites.  

In Singapore alone scam cases increased by 46.8 per cent from 31,728 in 2022 to 46,563 in 2023, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) reported.  

Singapore is not alone in this, the rest of Asia saw more than 60 per cent are victims of scams every week, according to the 2023 Asia Scam Report. 

This is the backdrop which motivated the creation of the Global Anti-Scam Alliance (GASA)’s Singapore chapter to tackle cyberthreats in Singapore and Asia Pacific.  

Mastercard and Amazon will lead GASA Singapore as Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively, with the participation of organisations in the technology, finance, and academic sectors. 

“Tackling scams requires a Whole-of-Society approach and the involvement of industry stakeholders is crucial… In this respect, we welcome the establishment of the Singapore Chapter of GASA and look forward to this partnership and what we can achieve together,” Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information, Senior Minister of State, Tan Kiat How, said. 

The Singapore chapter aims to expand national consumer protection against frauds by connecting private and public industries to facilitate information sharing and developing anti-scam solutions.

The era of cyber threats 

The Singapore chapter plans to continue public awareness campaigns to educate consumers on how to recognise scams. 

The rise of scam cases affects consumers of all ages, with young adults making up 50.8 per cent of all scam victims in Singapore in 2023. The threats included job scams, e-commerce frauds, and phishing scams on messaging platforms and social media, the SPF reported

As cyber threats evolve with the surge of online sales, phishing, and artificial intelligence (AI), so must the strategies to fight back. 

Recently, young adults have fallen victim to scammers who threatened them with AI-generated nude deepfakes. The scammers demanded that the victims transfer anything from S$700 to over S$2000 or else they would distribute the deepfakes on social media.  

While AI makes it easier for bad actors to deceive victims, it can also be a very useful tool to fight these threats, GovInsider reported previously. 

Education campaigns on recognising scams and understanding the use of AI tools is one of the projects that the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) and Amazon are planning to promote digital inclusion and protect consumers from scams. 

This partnership marks the need for further collaboration across sectors to exchange best practices to fight against fraud. 

Collaboration needed 

Since scams are a “cross-industry issue”, insights from different stakeholders are essential to tackle scam threats, said GASA Singapore Chapter’s Vice Chair and Amazon’s Public Policy Manager Shze Min Yah. 

To connect partners across the public and private sectors in different industries, GASA Singapore Chapter is planning the second Anti-Scam Asia Summit to be held in Singapore in October this year.  

The first summit in Taipei last year was successful in connecting regional stakeholders to exchange best practices in combating cyberthreats, Yah added. The summit was organised by Gogolook and GASA, and subsequent editions will be held around Asia. 

“A unified approach is key to fighting scams and protecting consumers,” said GASA Singapore Chapter’s Chairman and Mastercard’s Cyber & Intelligence Vice President, Rajat Maheshwari. 

He emphasised that GASA’s first Asia chapter in Singapore is a step in the right direction to cross-collaborate with the public and private sectors and advance Singapore’s national initiatives of protecting citizens from cyber-crimes.  

“Through a deeper public-private collaboration, we can improve the sharing of information on trends and emerging scam techniques, and test out new ideas that can better safeguard consumers,” Tan added. 

In the past, Singapore’s public officials have built collaborative strategies with private companies such as TikTok. This partnership first launched in 2023 to raise awareness about scams and educate online users on safe online practices. 

Similar partnerships are expected to arise with the start of the Singapore chapter. This is essential to “[building] a more resilient ecosystem against scams,” said GASA’s Managing Director Jorji Abraham.  

Reinforcing national strategies  

The government has involved different national agencies to provide a holistic response to scam cases. 

A recent development is the single-sender ID,, for all messages from government agencies. The aim is to reduce SMS frauds in the name of government agencies. This initiative will standardise messages from the government with a line indicating authenticity. By July, most national agencies will adopt the standardised sender ID. 

This initiative is driven by the government’s tech unit Open Government Products (OGP), which has also developed the app and bot ScamShield which helps users to protect themselves from scams.  

The joint effort between the public sector and private stakeholders with the Singapore chapter aims to bring together best practices to combat scams and frauds and drive innovations that can serve as models for other local chapters. 

“It's essential that we continue to grow our network globally through new chapters and partnerships... I encourage organisations worldwide to join us in this vital mission [of] protecting consumers everywhere," GASA’s Abraham said.