Young people say in MCI survey they can identify scams, but police crime statistics show otherwise
When 1,052 people were asked in a recent Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) survey how confident they were about identifying scams on messaging platforms, the results were positive.
The survey showed that 67 per cent of those aged 15 to 29 said they were moderately or extremely confident about identifying scams.
But in reality, young people are not that scam-savvy.
According to the police’s mid-year scam statistics released on Sept 13, most scam victims are young people, with 50.8 per cent of those duped being adults aged 20 to 39.
Between January 2020 and June 2023, scam victims in Singapore lost almost $1.9 billion to scammers.
MCI’s survey on public sentiments and attitudes towards scams in Singapore gathered responses from 1,052 Singapore residents aged 15 and above.
MCI revealed the poll results at a Mandarin dialogue jointly organised by the Government’s feedback unit Reach, local radio station UFM100.3 and Chinese-language paper Shin Min Daily News at SPH Media’s News Centre in Toa Payoh on Thursday.
The event was attended by Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo, who is also Second Minister for Home Affairs.
On why young people fell for scams even though they said they were confident, Mrs Teo said: “I think part of the reason is that young people are more likely to use digital services, and they spend more time online as well.
“But as a result, especially if they are very interested to get the services done quickly, they may also let their guard down. So the takeaway is really that we need to remain vigilant at all times.”
According to the latest Singapore Police Force weekly scams bulletin released on Friday, the top five scams were investment, job, fake friend call, e-commerce and credit-for-sex scams.
According to the police’s mid-year scam statistics, the scams that young adults most often fell for were job scams.
In the first six months of 2023, 33.9 per cent of young adult scam victims fell prey to job scams. The police did not reveal the exact number of young adults who were duped.
The dialogue saw more than 140 participants joining a discussion about scams.
MCI’s poll showed that 89 per cent of young people were slightly or somewhat concerned about becoming scam victims, lower than the 97 per cent of people aged 50 and above.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Aileen Yap, the assistant director of the police’s Anti-Scam Command, said during the dialogue that young people may be complacent in thinking they would not fall prey to scammers.
They also underestimate how much they could potentially lose to scams, she said. In contrast, older people have more to lose.
AC Yap said: “Older people may feel more anxious about the digital space, so they will be especially careful and cautious.”
She drew laughter from the audience when she added: “And even though most of you here are already retired and have no income, I’m confident that your bank accounts have the most money.”
Mrs Teo, AC Yap and Dr Chiew Tuan Kiang, a Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassador, were on a panel discussing common types of scams and how to avoid them.
Across all age groups, 56 per cent of MCI’s poll respondents were moderately or extremely confident about identifying scam calls.
This dipped to 45 per cent when it came to scams on social media, including Facebook advertisements.
And more than seven in 10 respondents said they encountered scam prevention information at least several times a month.
Separately, another survey by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) found that 60 per cent of respondents in 2022 felt there was a high chance of their computers or devices being compromised, up from 43 per cent in 2020.
Released earlier in September, CSA’s survey of 1,051 respondents found that this perceived likelihood was higher among people aged 40 to 55 and above, compared with younger people aged 15 to 39.
The survey also found around that three in 10 people still do not know what phishing is, a proportion that has remained the same since 2020. Phishing is the act of tricking someone into handing over money or data by impersonating a legitimate organisation.
Phishing scams were the most common scams in 2022 with 7,097 cases, a 41.3 per cent jump from the 5,023 cases in 2021.