SINGAPORE: At least 21 Singaporeans have become the target of an online credit card fraud syndicate believed to be operating from Hong Kong, said the Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Tuesday (Jul 28).
The syndicate allegedly used details stolen from credit card holders in Singapore using phishing emails to make a series of fraudulent online purchases of electronic products in Hong Kong.
Fire core members of the syndicate, three Hong Kong women and two foreign men aged between 26 and 37, were arrested by Hong Kong police on Jul 6 for their suspected involvement in several cases of online credit card fraud in the city.
Investigations showed the syndicate used credit card details stolen from at least 21 Singaporean victims, who had received emails purportedly from a technology and media services provider to update their payment details.
"These victims were then re-directed to a URL impersonating the services provider’s website where they were deceived into entering their credit card details and one-time passwords," said Singapore police.
"Most of the victims only realised that they had been scammed when they discovered unauthorised transactions in their credit/debit card statements."
The five suspects are believed to be responsible for at least 21 counts of fraudulent online credit card purchases of electronic products and other items in Hong Kong amounting to more than HK$270,000 (S$48,000), said SPF.
They have been involved in such fraud involving victims in Singapore since April 2020, investigations showed. The syndicate is also believed to have been involved in other fraudulent online transactions amounting to more than HK$1,300,000 using stolen credit card information from victims in the United States, as well as European countries such as Italy and Portugal.
The case is now under investigation by the Commercial Crime Bureau of the Hong Kong police.
"The transnational crime syndicate had targeted unsuspecting victims in many jurisdictions, including Singapore. They had phished for the victims’ banking details through sophisticated sham operations and had used the stolen credit card details to defraud online merchants in Hong Kong," said Mr David Chew, director of SPF's Commercial Affairs Department.
"A transnational response is needed to effectively counter this threat. SPF will continue to collaborate closely with our foreign counterparts to detect and deter such transnational syndicates who attempt to use the anonymity of the Internet to commit serious crimes across territorial boundaries," Mr Chew added.