Between January and November 2019, at least 401 reports of China Officials impersonation scams were received, with at least $18.8 million cheated. From August to November 2019, the Police received 242 reports of such scams, with at least $10.8 million cheated. Such scams typically involved scammers impersonating as staff members from courier companies, telecommunication service providers, or officers from government organisations informing victims of the following:

A mobile number registered in their name was involved in a crime;

A parcel under their name containing illegal goods was detained;

There was a pending case in court against them; and/or

They had committed a criminal offence and were required to assist in investigations.

The scammer would then direct the victim to provide their personal particulars and bank account details, including internet banking credentials and One-Time Password (OTP) for investigation purposes. In some cases, the call would be transferred to another person who would identify himself as a police officer from China. Victims might be shown a copy of a warrant for their arrest from the China Police and were threatened with imprisonment if they did not cooperate. Subsequently, the victims would discover that monies had been transferred from their bank account to unknown bank accounts.

In another variant of this scam, scammers would instruct victims to scan a QR code and transfer a sum of money using Bitcoin vending machines. There were also some cases where victims were asked to withdraw money from their bank accounts to be handed over to a Government Officer for verification purposes. The scammers kept the victims on the phone line to ensure that they did not have the opportunity to verify the authenticity of the call.

The Police would like to advise members of the public 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 personal details or transfer of money over the phone or through automated voice machines. 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. If you receive a suspicious call from a local number, hang up, wait a while, then call the number back to check the validity of the request.

Don't give � Do not provide your name, identification number, passport details, contact details, bank account or credit card details, and One-Time-Password (OTP) to anyone. Such information is useful to criminals.

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'.

To seek scam-related advice, you may call the anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or go to 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 victim of scam.

Source: Singapore Police Force