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Digital currency-related crime reports in Singapore shoot up 2,500% since 2018

The number of police reports related to digital currency crime has shot up in Singapore by over 2,500% since 2018. Singaporean police also noted that over $29 million has been lost to such crime incidents in the past three years.

Speaking to local newspaper Straits Times, Singaporean police revealed that in 2020, 393 reports of digital currency-related crime were filed. They included fraud, scams and other bogus investment projects that fled off with millions of dollars’ worth of investment.

This number was more than three times higher than 2019’s which stood at 125, according to the report. The year prior, there were just 15 such reports, showing that digital currency crime has shot up over 2,500% in just three years.

Singapore is one of the world’s biggest financial hubs, ranking fifth globally in the latest survey, behind New York at the top spot, London, Shanghai and Hong Kong. However, just like with many other jurisdictions around the world, it has also struggled with digital currency regulation. The industry has continued to see a number of scams, rug pulls, hacks, pump-and-dump schemes and more which have tainted its image.

Anthony Lim, the director of the Centre for Strategic Cyberspace and International Studies, a non-profit targeting cyber space, said most victims have themselves to blame for being scammed.

He remarked, “These scammers and perpetrators play on a potential victim’s greed or need for cash or inability to resist making a quick buck, despite it seeming too good to be true, and impatience to gain the goodies.”

Just in the past week, there were two suspected rug pulls on decentralized finance platforms built on the overly-centralized Binance Smart Chain. Over $13 million was lost in the process, with the developers being blamed for using less-than-standard code.

Lim added, “Many of those who fall victim are not vigilant and don’t do due diligence prior… We are talking about thousands of dollars of one’s hard earned money here; vigilance and due diligence is the least they could do before plunging.”

In Singapore, the government has warned investors against investing in digital currencies repeatedly. Earlier in May, Minister for Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam addressed Parliament on a number of issues, one of which was digital currencies. He claimed that the country’s central bank has warned against investing in the asset class, and therefore, those who lose money have only themselves to blame.

He commented, “Those who choose to trade in cryptocurrencies should therefore understand the significant risks they are taking on, and verify the credentials of the entities involved before dealing with them.”

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