The Police have arrested a 24-year-old man for his suspected involvement in a case of China Officials impersonation scam (COIS).
On 17 November 2021, the Police received a report that an 18-year-old man had allegedly been kidnapped. Prior to the report, the parents of the victim, who were based in China, received a video of the victim and ransom demands from an unknown person in China. Officers from Clementi Police Division, Criminal Investigation Department, Police Intelligence Department and Commercial Affairs Department conducted extensive searches and investigations to locate the victim, who was eventually found to be safe and sound at a rented unit on 18 November 2021.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the victim had received an unsolicited call from a scammer who claimed to be an officer from the Ministry of Health in Singapore about a month ago. The victim’s phone call was later redirected to two other scammers purportedly claiming to be police officers from China. The scammers alleged that the victim’s particulars were used to open a bank account involved in money laundering activities in China. The scammer further demanded the victim not to reveal the purported investigations to anyone and later allegedly deceived the victim into transferring more than $350,000 as “bail money” to bank accounts provided by the scammer. Acting on the scammer’s instructions, the victim recorded a video of himself with his hands placed behind his back in order to assist in the purported investigations. Without the victim’s knowledge, the scammer later sent this video to the victim’s parents in China and demanded a ransom to be paid for his release.
Preliminary investigations also revealed that a 24-year-old man, who is believed to be another victim of COIS, had allegedly acted on the scammer’s instructions to hand over an envelope, cash of $100 and a mobile phone with SIM card to the victim for the victim’s communication with the scammer, and to book a room for the victim to stay in. He also allegedly showed the victim a fake pass when they met.
Police investigations are ongoing. If found guilty of the offence of using as genuine a forged document under Section 471 of the Penal Code, the 24-year-old man faces an imprisonment term up to four years, a fine, or both. Those found guilty of the offence of cheating under Section 420 of the Penal Code, face a penalty of an imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years. Anyone who is convicted of the offence of money laundering under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act shall face a penalty of an imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, a fine not exceeding $500,000, or both.
The Police take a serious view against any person who may be involved in scams, whether knowingly or unwittingly, and they will be dealt with severely in accordance with the law.
The Police would like to highlight that the China Police, INTERPOL and other overseas law enforcement agencies (LEAs) 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 would also like to advise members of the public to take the following precautions when they receive unsolicited calls from unknown parties, especially those with the “+” prefix which originate from overseas:
- Ignore such calls and the caller’s instructions. No government agency will instruct payment through an undocumented media like a telephone call or other social messaging platforms (WeChat or Facebook), or ask you for personal banking information such as your internet banking passwords;
- For foreign residents receiving calls from persons claiming to be police officers or government officials from your home country, please call your Embassy or High Commission to verify the claims of the caller;
- Refrain from giving out personal information and bank details, whether on the website or to callers over the phone. Personal information and bank details such as internet bank account usernames and passwords, or One-Time Password (OTP) codes from tokens, are useful to criminals;
- Do not make any fund transfers if the caller is of dubious identity;
- Call a trusted friend or talk to a relative before you act. You may be overwhelmed by emotions and err in your judgment; and
- If in doubt, always hang up the call and check with the Singapore Police Force.
If you have any information related to such crime, please call the Police Hotline at 1800-255 0000, or dial ‘999’ for urgent Police assistance.
To seek scam-related advice, members of the public may call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688 or go to www.scamalert.sg. Please share this advisory with your family and friends to prevent them from becoming the next scam victim.
Case Exhibits Seized
Fake Official Investigation Documents
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
22 November 2021 @ 6:20 PM