SINGAPORE - Sixteen people were cheated by scammers who posed as officers from the Singapore Police Force (SPF) between January and July, with one losing $1.7 million.
The police raised the alert on this variant of government official impersonation scams in a statement on Monday (Aug 2).
The victims had received unsolicited robocalls purportedly from the Singapore High Court. The calls were supposedly transferred to a police officer, who informed the victims that they were being investigated for money-laundering activities.
The conversations are then moved onto messaging apps Line or WhatsApp, with non-users instructed to download either of them. Those on Line would also be added to a chat group called Reporting Platform.
The victims are then purportedly shown a fake SPF warrant card and fake letters indicating that they are under investigation.
They would then be instructed to surrender their money for investigation by transferring their money to various bank accounts controlled by the scammers.
The victims were allegedly promised that the money transferred to these bank accounts would be returned to them upon the completion of the investigation.
They discovered that they had been scammed only when the scammer asked for further fund transfers and did not return the money transferred earlier.
In their statement, the police emphasised that they will not instruct members of the public to transfer money to bank accounts for investigation.
They added that no local government agency will request personal details or money transfers over the phone or through automated voice machines.
Police officers will also not identify themselves with the SPF warrant card on online platforms.
Police urged the public to take the following precautions if they receive such unsolicited robocalls:
- Ignore the calls and the callers' instructions.
- Do not provide your name, identification number, passport details, contact details, bank account details, credit card details or other banking information such as usernames and passwords (including one-time password codes).
- For foreign residents receiving calls from people claiming to be police officers or government officials from their home country, they should call their embassy to verify the claims of the callers.
- Call a trusted friend or talk to a relative before you act, and do not be pressured by the caller to act impulsively.
Those in doubt can dial 999 or approach a police officer at a nearby neighbourhood police centre.
Those with information related to such crimes can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000, or submit the information online at this website.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit this website or call the Anti-Scam Hotline on 1800-722-6688.