15-year-old under investigation after missing man instructed by scammer to film himself with 'bruises'
SINGAPORE: A 25-year-old man has been arrested and a 15-year-old boy is under investigation for their alleged involvement in a China official impersonation scam, after a video and a ransom demand of a missing man with "bruises" were sent to the victim's parents.
The police said that they received a report on Tuesday (Apr 26) that a 21-year-old man had gone missing.
The man’s parents, who are based in China, subsequently received a photo and a video of their son, as well as ransom demands from an unknown person in China.
Following the report, police officers conducted extensive searches and investigations to locate the man. He was eventually found safe around Airport Boulevard on Wednesday, police said in a news release on Friday.
Preliminary investigations showed that the man had received a call from a scammer who claimed to be a police officer from China.
“The scammer claimed that there was a police warrant against him in China for money laundering offences and later instructed the victim to stop all communications with his family and friends,” said police.
The scammer also told the man to take a photo and video of himself with make-up of “bruises” on his face and arms to “assist in the purported investigations”.
Without the victim’s knowledge, the scammer sent the photo and video to his parents in China and demanded a ransom be paid for his release, said the police.
According to screengrabs of messages between them, provided by the police, the victim’s parents asked the scammer for a video call with their son to guarantee his safety.
However, the scammer declined and urged them to send the money instead.
The parents then asked for more time to gather the money.
TEENAGER ALLEGEDLY INSTRUCTED BY SCAMMER TO BUY COSMETICS, ROPE FOR VICTIM
The 25-year-old man and the 15-year-old boy are also believed to be victims of a China officials impersonation scam, police said.
The man had purportedly “acted on the scammer’s instruction to hand over a mobile phone with a SIM card to the victim for the victim’s communication with the scammer”.
Meanwhile, the teenager allegedly bought and handed over several items – such as a mobile phone with a SIM card, dried food, cosmetics, rope and bandage tape – to the victim under the scammer’s instructions.
Investigations are ongoing.
Those found guilty of cheating face a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine.
Those convicted of money laundering could also face 10 years in jail, a fine of up to S$500,000, or both.
Police also highlighted that the China police, INTERPOL and other overseas law enforcement agencies have “no jurisdiction to conduct operations in Singapore, arrest anyone or ask members of the public to help with any form of investigations without the approval of the Singapore government”.
It further advised members of the public to take precautions when they receive unsolicited calls, especially from unknown parties and those from numbers with the “+” prefix that originate overseas.
This includes ignoring the calls and the caller’s instructions and verifying claims with embassies or high commissions.
Members of the public should also refrain from giving out personal information and bank details, as well as making fund transfers, to callers or websites.