SINGAPORE – To tackle scams, financial institutions and companies must stay ahead of scammers because reacting to the situation alone is not enough, said financial experts.

Especially as scammers will always find new ways to cheat victims.

They said to stay ahead of scammers, the Government, police, telcos and financial institutions need to coordinate their efforts and harness technology to their advantage.

National University of Singapore business professor Lawrence Loh said scams in Singapore are of critical concern now and they need to be tackled quickly.

He said: “It is something we have to address and take quite seriously so as to maintain our standing as one of the key financial hubs in the world, especially in Asia.”

He noted the reputational impact, however little, may lead to fewer business opportunities here and these opportunities are one of the fundamental creators of jobs.

“But with that being said, business decision-makers from around the world will consider other factors, such as Singapore’s strong measures to tackle scams, when they decide whether to invest here,” said Prof Loh.

According to the mid-year crime statistics released by the police last month, 14,349 scam cases were reported this year, almost double the 7,746 cases reported in the same period last year.

A total of $346.5 million was lost to all scams in the first half of this year, up from the $225.5 million lost during the same period last year.

The amount lost in the first six months of this year is more than half of the $633.3 million lost in the whole of last year.

Among the top scams of concern so far this year are job, phishing and e-commerce scams.

Dr Yan Li, senior lecturer at Nanyang Technological University’s business school, said while the increasing amount lost to scams may have blemished Singapore’s reputation as one of the safest countries in the world, it can be a huge win for the Republic if the authorities manage the situation well.

He said: “Scams are not unique to Singapore. They occur in many countries, especially wealthy ones.

“If we can find ways to curb such crimes successfully, then we not only set an example to other countries, we also strengthen our position as an attractive place for investors and foreign talent.”