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21 Y.O ARRESTED FOR $350K CHINA OFFICIALS IMPERSONATION SCAM

The Police have arrested a 21-year-old woman for her suspected involvement in a case of China Officials Impersonation Scam (“COIS”).

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On 20 September 2022, the Police received a report that another 21-year-old woman (“the victim”) had allegedly been kidnapped. Prior to the report, the parents of the victim, who were based in China, received a video of the victim with her hands and legs tied up, with a ransom demand from an unknown person communicating in Mandarin. Following the report, officers from Tanglin Police Division, Criminal Investigation Department, Police Intelligence Department and Commercial Affairs Department conducted extensive searches and investigations to locate the victim. She was eventually found to be safe and sound on 22 September 2022, in a Yishun flat rented by the 21-year-old woman, who was arrested.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the victim had received an unsolicited call from an officer from the Ministry of Health in Singapore who alleged that a phone line registered in the victim’s name was used to cheat people in China. When the victim denied this, the call was redirected to another scammer purporting to be an officer from the “China Police”, who further alleged that a bank account in her name was also found to be involved in money laundering activities in China. To avoid being deported, the scammer 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 also recorded a video of herself being tied up to assist in the purported investigations. Thereafter, the scammer told the victim to cease communication and isolate herself in a “safe house” that the scammer had arranged.

Unknown to the victim, the scammer sent the compromised video to her parents in China and demanded a ransom for her release. Following the report, the Police managed to trace and locate the victim at the unit rented by the 21-year-old woman. Follow-up investigations revealed that the 21-year-old woman had acted on the scammer’s instructions to rent the room for the victim, and handed over a mobile phone with SIM card for the victim to use to communicate with the scammer. Police investigations are ongoing.

From January 2022 to August 2002, a total of 476 COIS cases were reported with losses amounting to at least $57.3 million. The Police would like to highlight that the China Police, INTERPOL and other overseas law enforcement agencies (LEAs) have no jurisdiction to help with any form of investigations without the approval of the Singapore Government. The Police take a serious view against any person who may be involved in scams, whether knowingly or unwittingly, and they would be dealt with severely in accordance with the law.

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The Police would also like to advise members of the public to take the following precautions when they receive unsolicited calls, especially from unknown parties, especially those with the “+” prefix which originate overseas:

  • Ignore such calls and the caller’s instructions. No government agency will instruct payment through a telephone call or other social messaging platforms (WeChat or Facebook), or ask you for personal banking information such as your internet banking password;
  • For foreigners receiving calls from persons claiming to be from Police in your home country, call your Embassy/High Commission to verify the claims of the callers;
  • Refrain from giving out personal information and bank details, whether on websites or to callers over the phone. Personal information and bank details such as internet bank account usernames and passwords, OTP codes from tokens, are useful to criminals.
  • Do not make any funds transfer if the caller is of dubious identity.
  • Call a trusted friend or talk to a relative before you act. You may be overwhelmed by emotion and err in your judgment.
  • If in doubt, always hang up the call and check with the Singapore Police Force.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
24 September 2022 @ 3:10 PM

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