( dpa )- Telephone scams duped an average of nearly one person a day last year in Singapore and netted a multi-million-dollar haul for the perpetrators, according to crime data issued Tuesday in the city-state.
Scammers, who primarily targeted the elderly, collected 4.6 million Singapore dollars (3.3 million US dollars).
Overall, crime statistics improved with 32,545 cases reported, 718 fewer than in 2006.
A variation of phone scams emerged that were almost unheard of in 2006, according to the tally in The Straits Times.
Con artists resorted to lottery or lucky-draw scams to cheat 325 reported victims, supposedly the "advance fee" to release the prizes. Or mysterious callers claimed that family members of victims had been kidnapped and would be harmed unless a ransom was paid.
Others masqueraded as police or court officers and told victims to remit money so as to close investigations into crimes they never committed. A total of 500,000 Singapore dollars (350,000 US dollars) from 49 people was turned over to con men using this method.
Senior Assistant Commissioner Soh Wai Wah said that telephone fraud is an area of concern for police, but he was confident such crimes could be curbed with the community's help.