31 probed over China officials impersonation scams, victims in S'pore lost more than $6.9 million

Fake passes (top) and fake investigation documents that were seized by the police during the arrests. PHOTOS: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

SINGAPORE - The police are investigating 31 people involved in China officials impersonation scams that caused victims to lose more than $6.9 million.

The police said in a statement on Wednesday (April 14) that since March, it had received several reports from victims saying they had received phone calls purportedly from banks or the China police.

Impersonating as China officials, the scammers would tell victims their credit or debit card details had been used for fraudulent transactions or that their bank accounts were involved in money-laundering activities.

They were then told to transfer their money for investigations, and handed over either their banking credentials or cash to money mules.

Most of them transferred money to bank accounts provided by scammers.

The amount transferred ranged from $5,000 to $824,500. At least $6,920,000 had been lost in total.

Three of the suspects, a woman, 19, and two men, aged 22 and 62, were arrested between March 22 and April 12.

They allegedly acted on the instructions of the scammers to meet the victims to collect cash or Internet banking tokens.

They allegedly showed the victims fake "China International Police" passes when they met.

Sometimes, the suspects would hand "official investigation documents" to the victims to create the impression they were being investigated by the China police.

The remaining 28 suspects allegedly acted as money mules.

The offence of cheating carries a prison term of up to 10 years and a fine, and the offence of cheating by impersonation carries a prison term of up to five years and/or a fine.

Remote video URL

The police said no government agency would request personal details, bank account login credentials or the transfer of money over the phone.

They advised the public to call a trusted friend or talk to a relative before they act, as they may be overwhelmed by emotion and make wrong judgments.

Scammers may also use caller ID spoofing technology to mask the actual phone number and display a local one.

The police also warned against giving personal information, such as identification card numbers, bank details, credit card details and one-time passwords to anyone.

Those with information on such scams can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit it online at this website.

For scam-related advice, the public can call the anti-scam helpline on 1800-722-6688 or visit this website.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.