$12.3 million lost in China official impersonation scams since January

Victims usually received calls from scammers claiming to be from government agencies such as the Ministry of Health. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - At least 46 victims have lost a minimum of $12.3 million since January after the re-emergence of Chinese official impersonation scams, the police said on Friday (March 4).

Victims usually received calls from scammers claiming to be from government agencies such as the Ministry of Health.

They were then transferred to several parties before being directed to a scammer claiming to be from the Chinese Judicial Investigation Department, who informed them that they were under investigation for offences such as illegally opening a bank account in China and money laundering.

The "official" asked for the victim's particulars over the phone.

Later, the victims received a mobile phone and fake documents with the emblem of Singapore Police Force, Monetary Authority of Singapore and Attorney-General's Chambers placed outside their residence.

They were then contacted by the scammer on the phone and instructed to communicate with them through video call using a Teams Link application that was already installed on the phone.

The scammers sometimes got the victims to provide bank account details, Singpass login details and one-time password (OTP) to them.

Victims realised they had been scammed only when they discovered unauthorised transactions made to their bank account.

The police clarified on Friday that overseas law enforcement agencies have no jurisdiction to conduct operations in Singapore, arrest anyone, or ask members of the public to help with any form of investigation without the approval of the Singapore Government.

They advised people to be wary of calls with the "+" prefix, which originate from overseas, and ignore the caller's instructions.

The police reminded people to never give their personal information such as Singpass login details, bank account login details and OTP to anyone.

If in doubt, they should verify the authenticity of the information from the scammers with the official website or sources, or speak to a trusted friend or relative first.

If they notice a fraudulent transaction involving their bank accounts, they should report it to the bank immediately.

Anyone with information on scams may call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or visit the I-Witness website to submit information. Those who require urgent police assistance should call 999.

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