SINGAPORE: Three men have been arrested in Singapore in relation to a “refund fraud” scheme that caused large online retailers in the US to suffer millions of dollars in losses.
The men are aged between 23 and 25 and investigations are ongoing, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said on Monday (Nov 13) in response to queries from CNA.
The US Department of Justice announced in a press release last week that 10 members of an international cyber fraud ring were indicted for a “refund fraud” targeting online retailers.
The document named the 10 men, all based in the US. It also said that these individuals participated in the scheme “along with unindicted co-conspirators in Singapore, Canada, and the United Kingdom”.
The so-called Artemis Refund Group engaged in these acts to steal goods for themselves and others from April 2019 to October 2023, said the US Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
“ARG advertised their refund fraud services heavily on online messaging forums, which resulted in hundreds of customers of the fraud placing thousands of refund fraud orders. Some of these fraudulently refunded orders were shipped to the Northern District of Oklahoma, giving rise to venue in this district,” it added.
As part of the refund fraud conspiracy, the group would instruct fraud customers to purchase a product of their choice at one of the many retailers they targeted. They then collected information about the order and contacted the retailer to initiate a fraudulent refund transaction using a variety of tailored methods.
“After ARG was successful in deceiving the retailer into processing a fraudulent refund, the fraud customers would maintain possession of the item, but would be refunded the entire purchase price. ARG charged customers of the fraud between 15 to 20 per cent of the total price of the refunded item,” said the US authority.
Members of the group also participated in the scheme to obtain stolen goods for themselves and resell them for profit, it added, causing millions of dollars in losses to online retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, Wayfair, Dell Technologies and Adidas.
When asked about the scale of the refund fraud scheme in Singapore and if the police were looking into it, SPF said that it was unable to comment further as investigations are ongoing.