Between 15 and 29 April 2021, the Police have arrested two women and two men, aged between 17 and 45, for their suspected involvement in three separate cases of China officials impersonation scam (“COIS”).
Between March and April 2021, the Police have received several reports from victims who had fallen prey to COIS. In these cases, the scammers allegedly informed the victims that their credit or debit card details had been used for fraudulent transactions, and/or their bank accounts were involved in money laundering activities. The victims were then deceived into surrendering their money for the purported investigations and giving control of their internet banking access to the scammers. More than $5 million had been lost by the victims in these cases.
Through ground enquiries and with the aid of images from police cameras, officers from the Commercial Affairs Department and seven Police land divisions worked together to establish the identities of the four suspects.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the four suspects had allegedly acted on the instructions of scammers to deliver purported “official investigation documents” to victims so as to convince them that they were genuinely being investigated. These suspects were groomed by the scammers to believe that they were carrying out an “official mission”, and were instructed on what to wear and how to speak. The suspects would allegedly identify themselves with fake “China International Police” or “Interpol” passes when they met the victims. One of the arrested suspects also relinquished control of her bank account to the scammer.
The suspects are being investigated for the offences of cheating, using as genuine a forged document and cheating by personation.
- The offence of cheating under Section 420 of the Penal Code carries an imprisonment term of up to 10 years and a fine.
- The offence of using as genuine a forged document under Section 471 of the Penal Code carries an imprisonment term of up to four years, a fine, or both.
- The offence of cheating by personation under Section 419 of the Penal Code carries an imprisonment term up to five years, or with fine, or with both.
The Police take a serious view of persons who may be involved in scams, and perpetrators will be dealt with in accordance with the law. As scammers’ tactics continue to evolve, members of the public are advised 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 transfer of money, personal details or bank account login credentials over the phone. 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. From 15 April 2020, all incoming international calls will be prefixed with a plus (+) sign. Stay vigilant when receiving any unexpected international calls, and reject those which spoof local numbers.
- Don’t give – Never disclose your name, identification number, passport details, contact details, bank account or credit card details, and One-Time-Password (OTP) to anyone. Such information will be abused by criminals.
The Police would like to warn members of the public that it is a serious offence to impersonate law enforcement officers and to collect money from other persons, on the instructions of callers claiming to be officers from law enforcement agencies.
If you wish to provide any information related to such scams, please call the Police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. If you require urgent Police assistance, please dial ‘999’.
For scam-related advice, please call the National Crime Prevention Council’s anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or visit www.scamalert.sg. Join the “let’s fight scams” campaign at www.scamalert.sg/fight by signing up as an advocate to receive up-to-date messages and share them with your family and friends. Together, we can help stop scams and prevent our loved ones from becoming the next scam victim.
Case Exhibits Seized
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
30 April 2021 @ 3:20 PM