SINGAPORE: A woman was allegedly tricked into handing over S$1 million after being deceived by scammers claiming to be Chinese authorities into thinking she was being investigated for a serious crime.
One of the women who allegedly handled the cash was charged on Friday (Oct 30) with collecting S$1.5 million in criminal proceeds from another woman as part of the China official scam. It is unclear where the extra S$500,000 came from.
Malaysian Lee Pey Ying, 30, was given one charge under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.
She is accused of collecting S$1,537,000 from a person named Zhou Ying between Jul 6 and Jul 17 this year.
Charge sheets state she had reasonable grounds to believe that her act facilitated criminal conduct. The prosecutor told the court that the money was not recovered.
The police said in an earlier statement that a woman lodged a report in July saying she had received unsolicited phone calls from strangers claiming to be Chinese authorities.
The victim said she was deceived into thinking she was being investigated for a serious crime, and was instructed by the scammers into giving the cash over five days to a woman.
The police arrested Lee and another 19-year-old woman. They are still investigating the younger woman, who has not been charged yet.
Police investigations found that the 19-year-old woman acted on the instructions of the scammers to collect the cash from the victim, before handing the money to Lee.
The police warned the public not to collect money from other people on behalf of strangers, especially those claiming to be officers from law enforcement agencies.
"Such callers are most likely scammers, and members of the public who act on their instructions may unwittingly have committed a crime by assisting to launder money from criminal activities," said the police.
Lee was offered S$100,000 bail and will return to court on Nov 27. If convicted, she can be jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to S$500,000, or both.