Fake 'Chinese officials' cheat victims of S$10.8 million in last 4 months

Fake 'Chinese officials' cheat victims of S$10.8 million in last 4 months

The police said on Friday (Dec 13) that they have received 242 reports of China officials impersonation scams between August and November this year, with at least S$10.8 million lost to scammers. Cheryl Goh reports.

SINGAPORE: The police said on Friday (Dec 13) that they have received 242 reports of China officials impersonation scams between August and November this year, with at least S$10.8 million lost to scammers.

The number of such scams has risen in the second half of 2019. Between January and May 2019, police received 92 reports of such scams.

But in the figures provided on Friday, police had received at least 401 reports of China officials impersonation scams for the months of January to November, with victims losing at least S$18.8 million to the scammers.

Scammers would typically pose as staff members from courier companies, telecommunication service providers or officers from government organisations.

Victims would be told that: 

  • A mobile number registered under them was involved in a crime;
  • A parcel under their name containing illegal goods was detained;
  • There was a pending case in court against them; or
  • That they had committed a criminal offence and were required to assist in investigations.

They would then be directed to provide their Internet banking credentials and One-Time Password (OTP) for the purpose of investigations.

READ: 'It is very scary': How a foreign student was cheated of S$500,000 by fake China officials

In some cases, the call would be transferred to another person who would identify themselves as a police officer from China. 

Victims could also be shown a copy of a warrant for their arrest from Chinese police and threatened with imprisonment if they did not cooperate. 

They would later discover that funds had been transferred from their bank account to unknown accounts.

Another method scammers would employ was to instruct victims to scan a QR code and transfer a sum of money using Bitcoin vending machines.

READ: Fake Chinese officials scam on the rise; victims cheated of S$4.8m in 4 months: Police

READ: Singapore police’s new anti-scam centre wants to hit scammers where it hurts

In some cases, victims were asked to withdraw money from their bank accounts to hand over to a supposed government official for verification purposes.

The scammers kept the victims on the phone to ensure that they did not have the opportunity to verify the authenticity of the call.

Source: CNA/nh(hm)

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