SINGAPORE – Young people are seeking help for mental health issues after falling for scams, amid a spike in ruses which has seen victims lose $660.7 million in 2022, up from $632 million in 2021.
Singapore Counselling Centre (SCC) said it has counselled more young scam victims in recent years, to help them through the pain of losing money in various ruses.
“Having their money and pride taken away from them against their will, victims may begin to believe they have no control over their life and future,” said SCC’s chief well-being officer John Shepherd Lim.
A police spokesman said young people, who are more confident in their abilities to navigate the digital space, may not think they could fall for scams.
“Many of them are more open to risk-taking and may underestimate the possibility of becoming a scam victim,” added the spokesman.
Figures police released earlier in 2023 showed that most victims of scams in 2022 were in their 20s and 30s.
Of the victims in 2022, 53.5 per cent were between 20 and 39 years old. More than one in four (26.7 per cent) were between 20 and 29 years old.
The scam types with the most number of reports in 2022 were phishing scams, job scams, e-commerce scams, investment scams and fake-friend-call scams. There were also 868 cases of Internet love scams in 2002.
Mr Lim said young victims feel shame, which leads to low self-esteem and isolating behaviours, and helplessness. They also fear being blamed for being gullible, which worsens their feelings of guilt or shame.
With Internet love scams, he said, victims could develop distrust, withdraw from society or face mental health issues.
Mental health advocacy organisation Silver Ribbon (Singapore) said in the past two months, it observed a 20 per cent increase in youth being scammed due to online gaming and online purchases.
“After being scammed, they will lose trust in humans, become paranoid and tend to keep to themselves,” said a spokesman for the organisation.
They might also normalise scammers’ behaviour, said Ms Kristine Lam, senior manager of Care Corner Youth Services.
“They might think that such behaviour is common or even acceptable because to them, it seems like everyone is taking advantage of the trust of others.
“Facing these experiences for the first time may be shocking for youth. They may not know who to turn to, or what to do about the situation.
“Some may also feel a sense of shame at being cheated and not seek help,” she added.