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    Aug 30, 2016

    More Web love scams, under-30 drug abusers

    BE CAREFUL when you make friends online, for the number of Internet love scams has nearly doubled.

    It spiked in the first half of 2016, even as the overall crime rate in the country dipped slightly.

    Figures from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) showed there were 298 cases in the first six months of the year in which victims were cheated of money while looking for love or friendship online, almost double the 150 cases in the same period last year.

    A vast majority - 87 per cent - of victims were women.

    E-commerce cheating also increased slightly, from 1,010 cases in the first half of 2015, to 1,145 in the same period this year.

    These scams were flagged by the MHA yesterday as online crimes continue to be a concern for the police, its rise over the past few years pushing up annual crime statistics.

    In a statement yesterday, MHA said the police would continue to take a "multi-pronged approach of tough enforcement action, community partnership and public education" to combat online crimes.

    But there are signs that people are wising up.

    Credit-for-sex scams, which emerged in late 2014, with numbers exploding thereafter, are decreasing.

    There were 440 such cases in the first half of the year, compared with 632 in the same period last year.

    Other areas of concern include an increase in the number of calls for emergency medical services and the number of new drug abusers under 30.

    More people under the age of 30 are getting hooked on drugs, according to new statistics yesterday from the MHA.

    They made up the bulk of the 729 new drug abusers arrested by the Central Narcotics Bureau in the first half of the year.

    Of this number arrested, 485 were below age 30 - a demographic that has seen an increase of about 9 per cent from the same period last year, when 446 new drug abusers under age 30 were nabbed.

    Still, the overall crime rate has continued to decline, with the total number of crime cases dipping 2 per cent to 16,607 in the first half of 2016, from 16,966 in the same period last year.

    But Singapore continues to face various threats, especially terrorism, said the MHA, adding that the SGSecure national movement will be launched next month.