Taiwanese man, 53, arrested for impersonating Singapore police officer to scam victim of $225,000

The suspect is believed to be involved in at least 10 other similar scams, with victims suffering losses totalling over $800,000.
The suspect is believed to be involved in at least 10 other similar scams, with victims suffering losses totalling over $800,000. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

SINGAPORE - A 53-year-old Taiwanese man has been arrested for his suspected role in a scam involving the impersonation of a police officer, police said on Friday (July 7).

The police had received a report from a 55-year-old woman on Wednesday, who received a call from an unknown person claiming to be a police officer.

She was told she was being investigated for money laundering offences, before the call was transferred to another unknown person identifying himself as a police officer from another country.

The victim was given a link to a website supposedly from the Singapore Police Force, and instructed to key in her internet banking credentials.

She later found that her bank account had been accessed illegally without her knowledge, with about $225,000 transferred to unknown accounts.

Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department managed to identify the 53-year-old suspect after extensive investigative enquiries, and he was arrested on Thursday.

He is believed to be involved in at least 10 other similar cases, preliminary investigations show, with victims suffering losses totalling over $800,000.

If convicted for the offence of dishonestly receiving stolen property, he could be jailed up to five years and fined, or both.

"The police would like to clarify that the official SPF website can be accessed at www.police.gov.sg," police said.

When receiving unsolicited calls, especially from unknown parties, members of the public are advised to ignore the calls.

Scammers may use Caller ID spoofing technology to display a different number, so calls appearing as local numbers may not actually be made from Singapore.

"If you receive a suspicious call from a local number, hang up, wait five minutes, then call the number back to check the validity of the request."

All instructions to remit or transfer money should be ignore, as no government agency will ask for payment through a phone call, especially to a third party account.

Personal information and bank details should not be given out, whether on a website or over the phone. Information such as internet bank account usernames and passwords, and OTP codes from tokens, are useful to criminals.

Before taking any action, call a trusted friend or talk to a relative, to make a better judgement in the situation.

Call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000, or dial 999 for urgent assistance, if you have information related to such crime or are in doubt.

Members of the public may call the anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688, or go to www.scamalert.sg, for scam-related advice.