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Sunday, July 21, 2024
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126 PEOPLE LOSES $16.3 MILLION SINCE 2024 TO PRC GOVT IMPERSONATION SCAM

The Police would like to alert members of the public of a recent uptick in a variant of Government Official Impersonation Scam, where scammers would impersonate China officials and accuse victims of their involvement in criminal activities. Since January 2024, there have been at least 126 victims, with total losses amounting to at least $16.3 million.

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In this variant, victims would receive unsolicited phone calls from the first scammer impersonating government officials, such as Immigrations and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officials, or bank officers. The first scammer would allege that victims had applied for credit cards, bank accounts or phone numbers that were eventually involved in criminal activities. In some instances, scammers alleged that victims were involved in spreading false rumours or information or had made prohibited purchases. When the victims denied involvement, the first scammer would transfer the call to a second scammer claiming to be a government official from China, such as a China police officer, who claimed to be able to help them prove their innocence.

The scammers would instruct victims to transfer money to specified bank accounts designated by “China officials”, purportedly for bail or investigation purposes. In some instances, scammers would direct victims to meet and handover cash to a fake “official” in person, or to sign and receive fake documents.

The Police would like to emphasise that government officials, especially police officers, will never request members of the public over the phone or through text messages to (i) make bank transfers; (ii) provide personal banking, SingPass or CPF-related information; (iii) click on links that lead to bank websites; (iv) install third party applications or software on your computer or mobile phone. Government officials from other countries do not have legal powers to require members of the public in Singapore to perform such actions. The public are to call the Singapore police if an alleged Chinese police officer meets you in person in Singapore to pay money to him or to receive and sign documents for bail or investigation purposes.

Members of the public are encouraged to adopt the following crime prevention measures:

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  1. ADD – Add the ScamShield App to protect yourself from scam calls and SMSes.  Set security features (eg. enable International Call Blocking options on mobile devices, enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), Multifactor Authentication for online accounts, Money Lock your bank accounts to further secure a portion of your savings). 
  2. CHECK – Check for scam signs with official sources (e.g. ScamShield WhatsApp bot @ https://go.gov.sg/scamshield-bot, call the Anti-Scam Helpline on 1800-722-6688, or visit www.scamalert.sg), or with someone you trust. Never disclose your personal information (including SingPass and CPF-related information), internet banking and social media account details, and One-Time Passwords (OTP) to anyone.
  3. TELL – Tell the authorities, family, and friends about this scam encounter. Report and block any suspected scam accounts and chat groups. If you suspect that you have fallen victim to a scam, call your bank immediately to report and block any fraudulent transactions and make a police report. 

If you have any information relating to such crimes or if you are in doubt, please call the Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/i-witness. All information will be kept strictly confidential. If you require urgent Police assistance, please dial ‘999’.

For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800-722-6688. Fighting scams is a community effort. Together, we can ACT Against Scams to safeguard our community!

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