SINGAPORE: A woman has been jailed for her involvement in a series of China officials impersonation scams, said the police on Wednesday (Sep 29).
Lee Pey Ying, 31, was sentenced in court on Monday to 23 months and three weeks' jail.
She had collected and delivered money despite suspecting that the funds were the result of criminal conduct.
In one incident, she entered into an arrangement to collect at least S$300,000 from another person who was also involved such scams.
SCAMMERS CLAIMED TO BE FROM HEALTH MINISTRY
The police said in a news release that the Commercial Affairs Department had received reports in July 2020 from several victims of a China officials impersonation scams.
"Phone scammers claiming to be from the Ministry of Health (MOH) falsely informed elderly victims in Singapore that customs authorities were holding on to their deliveries of medication. The victims had not ordered these deliveries," said the police.
"Later, the calls were diverted to scammers impersonating Chinese police officers and prosecutors, who accused the victims of being involved in financial crimes."
Some victims would then hand cash over to individuals to facilitate these false investigations.
Police said Lee entered into an arrangement in July 2020 to collect at least S$300,000 from a 20-year-old woman, Zhou Ying.
Lee was introduced to the arrangement via an acquaintance of her boyfriend, who offered her a part-time job collecting items from people and delivering them to others.
This person, identified as Martin, promised Lee a commission of 1 per cent of the value of the items delivered.
Under this agreement, Lee made collections and deliveries according to instructions from either Martin or a person identified as “Feng”. Both Martin and Feng were unknown to her.
The police said Lee collected the money from Zhou despite suspecting that the cash was the benefits of criminal conduct arising from a “money game”, which to her understanding, was a “pyramid investment scam”.
Zhou had actually obtained the S$300,000 from two victims of a China officials impersonation scams.
The news release said Zhou had also been contacted by an unknown person impersonating a MOH official on Jun 29, 2020. The call was subsequently redirected to people impersonating Chinese police officers.
A person identifying himself as “Officer Lin” informed Zhou that she was a person of interest in ongoing criminal investigations.
Zhou was instructed by "Officer Lin" to print and deliver documents with the Monetary Authority of Singapore logo to other victims, collect "evidence" from them, and to hand the "evidence" over to Lee.
"In actual fact, the 'evidence' that Zhou collected and passed to Lee was the money that the victims had withdrawn from their bank accounts," police said.
The police said Lee had entered into this arrangement "having reasonable grounds to believe that by the arrangement, the control by an unknown person of his benefits of criminal conduct would be facilitated".
She was thus charged with assisting another to retain benefits from criminal conduct.
The police warned members of the public not to collect money from other individuals on the behalf of strangers, especially if the sources of funds are not known.
"Such acts may render one liable for money-laundering offences," they added.
Those with information related to such scams or who are in doubt can call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit the Scam Alert website or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.