TWO CASES OF MISSING PERSONS-TURNED-VICTIMS OF GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IMPERSONATION SCAM TRACED BY POLICE WITHIN THREE HOURS
On 28 and 29 April 2023, Police received two separate reports that two men, aged 22 and 19, (“the victims”) had allegedly been held captive. Prior to the reports, the victims’ parents, who were based in China, received separate calls from unknown male callers who threatened to hurt their sons if payment was not made promptly for the gambling debts that the victims were said to have incurred.
Following the reports, officers from Clementi Police Division, Central Police Division, Tanglin Police Division, Criminal Investigation Department, Police Intelligence Department and Commercial Affairs Department conducted extensive follow-up investigations and tracked down the two men within three hours of the respective reports.
Both was men were subsequently established to be victims of a Government Officials Impersonation Scam (GOIS).
Preliminary investigations revealed that the victims had received separate calls from someone purporting to be an Immigration & Checkpoints Authority ICA officer sometime in March and April 2023 respectively.
The scammer alleged that they had detected a parcel with prohibited items in Singapore registered under the victims’ name.
The victims were also told that their identities could have been misused and the duo were asked to cooperate in the investigations conducted by the China Police.
Both victims were re-directed to another scammer who masqueraded as the “China Police” and informed the victims that their identities were also involved in scam cases. The duo were instructed to report to the “China Police” thrice a day via chat applications.
The victims dutifully complied out of fear after they were shown fake Chinese documents of the crimes that they were allegedly involved in. They maintained contact with the scammers over the chat applications and had also revealed their personal particulars, banking details and family background to the scammers.
In the first case, the victim was asked to post bail of SGD 15,000. Failing which, he would be arrested and extradited to China to face criminal charges. He was warned not to leak any information about the investigation to third parties including his parents.
Consequently, the victim lied to his mother that he needed SGD 15,000 for his school fees which he then paid to the scammers by depositing the money into a bank account on 10 April 2023. Thereafter, the victim was instructed to delete all the chat logs with the scammers, including the bank beneficiary details.
Two weeks later, the victim was told that he needed to pay another RMB 250,000 to prove his innocence. He then lied to his mother again to obtain more money and then transferred RMB 250,000 to two China bank accounts provided by the scammer in order to avoid delaying the investigation.
On 27 April 2023, the scammers contacted the victim again and asked him to write a promissory note to acknowledge an online gambling debt of RMB 2,580,000 and send the selfie together with the note and China identity card to them.
The victim agreed as he believed that it was needed by the “prosecutor” to clear his case. Unbeknownst to the victim, on 28 April 2023, the scammers sent threats using the victim’s photo to his mother, who then contacted the Police when she was unable to contact her son.
In the second case, the victim was similarly asked to post bail of RMB 1,000,000 or he would be arrested and extradited to China to face criminal charges after receiving the alleged call. When he claimed he did not have the money, the scammers asked to speak to the victim’s parent for the money.
Unbeknownst to the victim, the scammers manipulated him into providing his WeChat ID and used it to communicate with his parents in China to demand payment of RMB 100,000 for a gambling debt that the scammer informed that the victim had incurred.
Unable to contact the victim, his parents contacted the Police. Thankfully, they did not suffer any monetary loss.
In both cases, the Police responded swiftly and located the victims in less than three hours. Police investigations into both cases are ongoing.
The Police would like to highlight that overseas law enforcement agencies 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 take a serious view of any person who may be involved in scams, whether knowingly or unwittingly, and offenders will be dealt with firmly, in accordance with the law.
The Police would also like to advise members of the public to adopt the following precautionary measures:
ADD – ScamShield App and set security features (e.g., enable two-factor (2FA) or multifactor authentication for banks, social media, Singpass accounts; set transaction limits on internet banking transactions). Do not send or transfer money to anyone whom you do not know or have not met in person before.
CHECK – For scam signs and with official sources (e.g., visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Helpline on 1800-722-6688). Beware of phone calls from unknown numbers (with or without the “+” prefix) and refrain from giving out personal information and bank details to callers over the phone. Government agencies will not ask for your bank account usernames and passwords.
TELL – Inform the authorities, family, and friends about scams and do not be pressured by the caller to act impulsively. Report any fraudulent transactions to your bank immediately.
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/iwitness. 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!
Chatlog from scammer to victim’s parent in 1st case ▼
Yellow envelope containing fake Chinese documents in 1st case ▼
Fake Chinese document in 2nd case ▼