Written reply to Parliamentary Question on prevention of cross-border scams
Date: For Parliament Sitting on 6 March 2023
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Yip Hon Weng, MP, Yio Chu Kang SMC
To ask the Prime Minister (a) what are the Ministry’s plans to curtail cross-border scams given the enhanced connectivity to transfer money through real-time payments; and (b) how is the Ministry working with international financial and security organisations to prevent such cross-border scams from taking place.
Answer by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:
1. MAS has launched real-time cross-border retail payment linkages with India and Thailand in the recent past. These will facilitate faster, cheaper, more accessible and more transparent cross-border payments for individuals and businesses.
2. We are keenly aware that criminals can exploit a more efficient and interconnected global payment network. We have seen scammers make use of faster cross-border payments to transfer their criminal proceeds out of Singapore, to where it is difficult to trace, and beyond the jurisdiction of our Police to freeze. The government is working actively to address this risk both domestically and in collaboration with our international counterparts.
3. Domestically, MAS has worked with our major retail banks to tighten and implement anti-scam controls. These include lowering the default transaction notification threshold to S$100 or lower, alongside the daily limit of S$1000 or lower for real time cross-border transfers. Banks actively monitor changes in scam typologies and will adjust these measures as appropriate.
4. Globally, our agencies work closely with our international counterparts to combat cross-border crimes and scams. For example,
a. MAS proactively exchanges relevant information with its international counterparts to surface suspicious cross-border flows and activities so that the authorities can take the appropriate mitigating measures.
b.Our Singapore Police Force (SPF) works with its overseas counterparts to exchange information and conduct joint operations to dismantle scam syndicates. SPF is a member of the “Asset-Recovery Interagency Network- Asia Pacific”, a network spanning 28 jurisdictions in the Asia-Pacific region which aims to increase members’ effectiveness in depriving criminals of their illicit profits. SPF also shares intelligence on transnational scams with the international policing community through INTERPOL.
5.We aim to reap the real benefits to the public of fast and efficient real time cross-border payments while mitigating the risks. MAS and the Police will continue to work closely and proactively with industry to review and enhance the suite of anti-scam measures.