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Singapore Crypto Scams Have Surged 5x Since 2019; Migrant Workers Targeted

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Crypto scams have increased five fold in Singapore since 2019 with migrants being a key target for scammers.

According to Today Online, scams targeting migrant workers are on the rise in Singapore. The demographic lost S$4.5 million to scammers in 2019, S$10.4 million in 2020 and a whopping S$24.9 million in 2021.

125 reports of crypto scams were recorded in 2019, 397 in 2020 and 631 in in 2022.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said the “vast majority of cryptocurrency scams” come from scammers based outside of Singapore so “there is a limit” to how much local law enforcement can do.

“Where the money has been transferred overseas, recovery is even more difficult”, he added.

Migrant workers are mainly victims of phishing and job scams according to Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who said the government is taking action “on multiple fronts” to disrupt the scammers’ operations whilst increasing public education and awareness.

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) also regularly provides anti-scam advisories and resources to migrant workers in their native languages with a specific social media campaign since July 2022 to help migrant workers from being scammed.

Tharman added that Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is working to “design a framework for shared responsibility amongst relevant parties when a scam occurs, and one which incentivises each party to be vigilant against scams”.

MAS is straddling a fine line of discouraging retail investors from crypto whilst retaining Singapore’s digital asset hub stance. Most recently, MAS said it is considering a revision of the caps on personal e-wallets and to introduce an exemption to allow for “white labelling” of e-wallet accounts, and is soliciting feedback from licensees and regulated entities under the Payment Services Act, as well as the general public.

Read more: Singapore Mulls Raising Caps on E-Wallets

At the same time, MAS has been approving more digital asset licenses in the region. Just last week and Coinbase were granted granted in-principal approval for a Digital Payment Token (DPT) licenses.

Read more: Follows Coinbase in Getting Singapore License