At least 21 people in Singapore fall prey to transnational online credit card fraud syndicate

The syndicate allegedly used the stolen details to fraudulently purchase electronic products online. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The credit card details of at least 21 people in Singapore were stolen by a transnational online credit card fraud syndicate believed to be operating from Hong Kong.

The syndicate allegedly used the stolen details to fraudulently buy electronic products online, the police said in a statement on Tuesday (July 28).

The statement followed a joint investigation by the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force, and the Commercial Crime Bureau and the Cyber Security Technology Crime Bureau of the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF).

"Investigations revealed that the syndicate had used credit card details stolen from at least 21 Singaporean victims, who had received e-mails purportedly from a technology and media services provider to update their payment details," said the police.

The victims were subsequently directed to a website impersonating that of the service provider, where they were deceived into entering their credit card details and one-time passwords (OTPs).

Most of the victims realised that they had been scammed only when they discovered unauthorised transactions in their credit or debit card statements, said the police.

The police also said that five core members of the syndicate - two men and three women aged between 26 and 37 - were arrested by HKPF officers earlier this month for suspected involvement in several cases of online credit card fraud in Hong Kong.

The women are from Hong Kong, while the men were only identified as foreigners. Their nationalities were not stated in the police statement.

The five members of the syndicate are believed to be responsible for at least 21 instances of fraudulent online credit card purchases of electronic products and other items in Hong Kong, using stolen credit card details from victims in Singapore.

The purchases amounted to more than HK$270,000 (S$48,000), said the police.

"Further investigations revealed that the suspects have been involved in such fraudulent online credit card purchases using stolen credit card details from Singapore since April 2020," the police added.

The syndicate is also believed to be involved in other fraudulent online transactions amounting to more than HK$1,300,000 using credit card information stolen from victims in the United States and European countries such as Italy and Portugal.

Investigations by the Commercial Crime Bureau of the HKPF are continuing.

The police has advised the public to refrain from disclosing to anyone else their personal or Internet banking details as well as OTPs, and from clicking on links in unsolicited emails and text messages.

Members of the public should report any fraudulent credit or debit card charges to their bank and cancel their card immediately in such a situation. They should also always verify the authenticity of information using official websites or sources.

Those who have information related to scams may call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000, or visit the i-Witness website. For urgent police assistance, call 999.

To get scam-related advice, the public may call the anti-scam helpline on 1800-722-6688 or visit the Scam Alert website.

Members of the public can also join the Let's Fight Scams campaign by signing up to receive up-to-date messages and share them with their family and friends.

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