The Police would like to alert members of the public to a recent rise in cases of China officials impersonation scams. In the first half of 2020, the Police received at least 224 reports of such scams, with total losses amounting to more than $11.0 million. This was an 85.1% increase in reports compared to the same period last year, where the Police received 121 reports of such scams, with total losses amounting to more than $7.1 million.
In China officials impersonation scams, scammers often impersonate staff from courier companies, telecommunication service providers, or officers from government organisations, informing victims of the following:
- A mobile number or bank account registered in their name is linked to a crime;
- There is a pending court case against them; and/or
- They had committed a criminal offence and are required to assist in investigations.
The victims would be duped into believing that their identities had been misused and that they would need to provide their personal information such as NRIC, passport details and internet banking credentials for investigation in order to absolve themselves from any criminal offence. They would subsequently be told to transfer money to other bank accounts. In some cases, the scammers would make unauthorised withdrawals of funds from the victims’ bank accounts.
In recent cases, some victims were asked to work for the scammers posing as ‘Police’ to collect money from other persons, who are actually victims of the same scam. To lend credence to their claims, scammers would send documents that resemble court documents to the victims by email.
The Police would like to emphasise to the public that the authorities will not ask them for their banking credentials, to transfer money to bank accounts or to meet strangers to pass or receive money and documents. Members of the public are advised 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 transfer of money, personal details or bank account login credentials over the phone. 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. From 15 April 2020, all incoming international calls will be prefixed with a plus (+) sign. Stay vigilant when receiving any unexpected international calls, and reject those which spoof local numbers.
- Don’t give– Never disclose your name, identification number, passport details, contact details, bank account or credit card details, and One-Time-Password (OTP) to anyone. Such information will be abused by 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’.
For scam-related advice, please call the National Crime Prevention Council’s anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or visit 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 scam victim.
Source: Voice of America