SINGAPORE - At least 231 victims have lost a minimum of $25 million to scams involving the impersonation of Chinese law enforcement officials since January, the police said on Friday (June 10).
In an advisory warning the public about the scams, they said victims would receive automated phone calls allegedly from the Ministry of Health. When they heeded the instruction to make further contact, the call would be directed to scammers claiming to be police officers from China.
The scammers would then tell the victims they were purportedly being investigated for money laundering, among other offences, and that there could have been misuse of their identities, leading to the victims being involved in the activities of a transnational crime ring.
The scammers would ask for the victims' particulars or online banking credentials to facilitate money transfers overseas as part of the investigation into the alleged offence, under the guise of helping the victims to clear their names.
In some cases, the victims were instructed to open local bank accounts to carry out money transfers.
The victims would discover they had been scammed only when they did not get back the money that had been transferred, or when there were unauthorised transactions made from their bank accounts.
The police advised members of the public to beware of calls with the "+" prefix, especially if they are not expecting an international call.
They should also not share their personal information, such as bank account log-in details and one-time passwords, with anyone. The police said government agencies will not ask for payment through unofficial platforms like a telephone call or social messaging platforms, nor ask for personal banking information.
They also urged the public to verify the authenticity of the information with the official website or sources, and call a trusted friend or relative before acting.
Any fraudulent transactions should reported to the bank immediately, they added.
The police said those with information related to such scams can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit it online at their website.
For more information on scams, people can visit the Scam Alert website or call the anti-scam hotline on 1800-722-6688.