Nearly 400 reports filed on scam phone calls; $1m lost

Close to 400 reports have been lodged by members of the public who received scam phone calls in which they were told their identities had been used in illegal activities overseas, the police said yesterday.

The victims first received calls from people claiming to be employees of courier companies or banks in China and were told their identities were used to send parcels containing fake passports or weapons, or were used to apply for overseas credit cards.

They were then referred to another caller claiming to be a Customs officer, a police officer or a government official from China and asked to provide their personal particulars, including name, identification number, address, passport number and bank account numbers. Some complainants were threatened with legal action and were instructed to remit money to China so that the "authorities" would not pursue the matter.

So far, victims have lost more than $1 million to this scam, police said. They advised people to take the following precautions:

•Ignore such calls and the caller's instructions.

•Do not provide name, identification number, passport details, contact details, and bank account or credit card details to such callers.

• Do not make any fund transfers. No government agency will instruct payment through a phone call and direct you to pay to a third party's bank account.

Sanjay Nair

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 17, 2016, with the headline 'Nearly 400 reports filed on scam phone calls; $1m lost'. Print Edition | Subscribe