Singapore Police Force (SPF) issued an alert to the public of a new variant of the China Officials impersonation scam whereby callers impersonated as staff from the Ministry of Health (MOH) before referring victims to scammers claiming to be China Officials.
Since March 2020, the Police stated that it received at least five such reports, with total losses amounting to more than $110,000.
According to the police in its press release on Monday (13 April), in the latest variant, callers impersonating as MOH staff would claim that China officials had seized parcels containing contraband medicine to treat COVID-19, which are registered under the victims’ names.
The calls would then be transferred to another person claiming to be from the ‘Chinese Police’ investigating the case.
The victims would be duped into believing that their identities had been misused and that they needed to provide their personal information such as NRIC, passport details and internet banking credentials for investigation in order to absolve themselves from any criminal offence.
The victims were also instructed not to disclose any information and were asked to contact the ‘Chinese Police’ on a daily basis.
In past cases of China Officials impersonation scam, scammers had impersonated as staff from courier companies, telecommunication service providers, or officers from government organisations, informing victims of a mobile number registered in their name was linked to a crime; there was a pending court case against them; and/or they had committed a criminal offence and were required to assist in investigations.
The Police stressed that authorities will not ask them for their banking credentials or to transfer monies to bank accounts and members of the public should not provide their name, identification number, passport details, contact details, bank account or credit card details and One-Time-Password (OTP).
The police also stated that no government agency will request for transfer of money, personal details or bank account login credentials over the phone.
Some scammers are able to mask their actual phone number and display a different number, said the police, adding that calls that appear to be from a local number may not actually be made from Singapore.
According to the police, all incoming international calls will be prefixed with a plus (+) sign starting from Wednesday.
“Stay vigilant when receiving any unexpected international calls and reject those that spoof local numbers,” police advised.