Two men extradited from Malaysia for alleged involvement in malware scams against Singaporeans


The SPF established the identities of the two men and traced their location to Malaysia. - Photo: Singapore Police Force

SINGAPORE: Two men aged 26 and 47 linked to malware scams against Singaporeans since June 2023 have been extradited from Malaysia and will be charged on Saturday (June 15).

Preliminary investigations show that the two men had allegedly operated servers to infect Android mobile phones with a malicious app, and later controlled the phones, said the police in a statement on June 14.

The app allowed the scammers to modify the contents of the victims’ mobile phones and gain access to their bank accounts.

In 2023, victims in Singapore lost at least $34.1 million in at least 1,899 cases after downloading malware onto their phones.

In these cases, scammers deceived the victims into downloading malicious apps to gain remote access to their devices and steal sensitive information, including person data and banking credentials.

The stolen information was then used to perform fraudulent transactions on the victims’ banking accounts.

Upon analysis of victims’ reports, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) found that the individuals involved in these malware-enabled scams might be operating in a few jurisdictions.

A joint, multi-jurisdiction investigation team, led by the SPF and including the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) and the Royal Malaysia Police, was formed in November 2023.

“Over the course of the next seven months, the joint investigation team unravelled the complex web of criminal activity and online infrastructure hosting the malware,” said the police.

SPF established the identities of the two men who were believed to be part of the syndicate responsible for the malware-enabled scams, and traced their location to Malaysia.

They were arrested in Malaysia on June 12, and handed over to SPF on June 14.

During the investigations, SPF also shared information with the Taiwan police, leading to the successful takedown of a syndicate operating a fraudulent customer service centre in Kaohsiung City.

Four individuals were arrested on May 15, and assets, including cryptocurrency and real estate, amounting to a total value of approximately US$1.33 million (S$1.8 million), were seized.

In Hong Kong, 52 malware-controlling servers were taken down and 14 money mules who had allegedly facilitated the scam cases were arrested by the HKPF.

SPF’s deputy director of the Criminal Investigation Department, Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Tay, said: “The arrest of these malware operators and dismantling of scam infrastructure demonstrates the resolve of the SPF in fighting scams.

“The SPF will spare no effort to go after criminals, even those who operate beyond our borders, and we will continue to work with our foreign law enforcement partners to bring these criminals to justice.”

The two men will be charged with the unauthorised modification of computer material. If found guilty, an offender can be jailed for up to seven years, fined up to $50,000, or both.

The 47-year-old man will also be charged with acquiring benefits from criminal conduct. If found guilty, he can be jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to $500,000, or both. - The Straits Times/ANN

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