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At least S$25 million lost to China official impersonation scammers since January 2022: Police

At least S$25 million lost to China official impersonation scammers since January 2022: Police

Those convicted of cheating can be jailed up to 10 years and fined. (Photo: iStock)

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Friday (Jun 10) warned of the re-emergence of a variant of scams involving the impersonation of Chinese authorities.

At least 231 victims have fallen for the scam since January 2022, with losses amounting to at least S$25 million, said the police in a news release.

In these cases, victims would receive robotic phone calls allegedly from the Ministry of Health.

When they heeded the instructions given during the call to make further contact, the call would be directed to scammers claiming to be a police officer from China.

The scammer would inform the victims that they were being investigated for money laundering and other offences. The victims would be told that there could be a misuse of their identities, which led to them being involved in the activities of a transnational crime ring.

The scammer, claiming to help the victims clear their names, would ask for the victims’ particulars or online banking credentials to facilitate money transfers overseas as part of the investigation into the alleged offence committed.

In some cases, victims were instructed to open local bank accounts to carry out money transfers, said the police. 

Victims would only discover that they had been scammed when they did not receive the money transferred for the purpose of investigation or when there were unauthorised transactions made from their bank accounts.

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, the police said.

They also advised members of the public to take precautions when receiving unsolicited calls claiming to be from overseas law enforcement agencies:

  • Beware of calls with the “+” prefix, which are a sign of international calls;
  • Ignore such calls and the caller’s instructions;
  • Never share your personal information, bank account login details, and one-time passwords with anyone;
  • Always verify the authenticity of the information with the official website or sources;
  • Call a trusted friend or talk to a relative before you act. You may be overwhelmed by emotion and may err in your judgment. Do not be pressured by the caller to act impulsively;
  • Report any fraudulent transactions to your bank immediately;

Government agencies will never instruct payment through undocumented media like a telephone call or social messaging platforms like WeChat and Facebook, the police added. 

They will also never ask for personal banking information such as Internet banking passwords. Do not make any transfers in response to such requests, SPF said.

Source: CNA/nh(ac)
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