At least $18.8 million cheated between Jan and Nov 2019 via China officials impersonation scams

The victim was sent a photo of a police warrant card from China (Source: SPF).

At least 401 reports of China Officials impersonation scams were received, with at least $18.8 million cheated between January and November 2019, said Singapore Police Force (SPF) in a press release on Friday (13 December).

From August to November 2019, the authority received 242 reports of such scams, with at least $10.8 million cheated.

Such scams are said to typically involved scammers impersonating as staff members from courier companies, telecommunication service providers, or officers from government organisations informing victims of the following:

  • A mobile number registered in their name was involved in a crime;
  • A parcel under their name containing illegal goods was detained;
  • There was a pending case in court against them; and/or
  • They had committed a criminal offence and were required to assist in investigations.

According to the police, the scammer would then direct the victim to provide their personal particulars and bank account details, including internet banking credentials and One-Time Password (OTP) for investigation purposes. In some cases, the call would be transferred to another person who would identify himself as a police officer from China.

Victims might also be shown a copy of a warrant for their arrest from the China Police and were threatened with imprisonment if they did not cooperate. Subsequently, the victims would discover that monies had been transferred from their bank account to unknown bank accounts.

The police also highlighted that in another variant of this scam, scammers would instruct victims to scan a QR code and transfer a sum of money using Bitcoin vending machines.

There were also some cases where victims were asked to withdraw money from their bank accounts to be handed over to a “Government Officer” for verification purposes and the scammers kept the victims on the phone line to ensure that they did not have the opportunity to verify the authenticity of the call.

As such, the Police advised members of the public to take the following precautions when they receive unsolicited calls, especially from unknown parties:

  • Don’t panic – Ignore the calls and caller’s instructions. No government agency will request for personal details or transfer of money over the phone or through automated voice machines. Call a trusted friend or talk to a relative before you act as you may be overwhelmed by emotion and err in your judgment.
  • Don’t believe – Scammers may use caller ID spoofing technology to mask the actual phone number and display a different number. Calls that appear to be from a local number may not actually be made from Singapore. If you receive a suspicious call from a local number, hang up, wait a while, then call the number back to check the validity of the request.
  • Don’t give – Do not provide your name, identification number, passport details, contact details, bank account or credit card details, and One-Time-Password (OTP) to anyone. Such information is useful to criminals.

If members of the public wish to provide any information related to such scams, you can call the Police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online and please dial ‘999’ if you require urgent Police assistance.

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