SINGAPORE - Two men and two women have been arrested for their role in a ruse where scammers pretended to be officials from China to fleece victims out of their savings.
In a statement on Thursday (May 20), the police said the four, aged between 18 and 51, had acted on behalf of scammers who told victims that their credit or debit card details had been used for fraudulent transactions, or that their bank accounts were involved in money-laundering activities.
The police said that these four were allegedly groomed to believe that they were carrying out official tasks for the scammers. They were instructed to dress in white and black and were also told what to say to the victims.
They also had fake identification cards and used them to identify themselves as representing organisations such as the Singapore Police Force, the Chinese police and Interpol.
In the ruse, the scammers first got the victims to divulge their personal banking details, including their one-time password. The victims were also allegedly deceived into surrendering their money for purported investigations.
The scammers then instructed the four individuals to deliver "official investigation documents" to the victims, in a bid to convince them that they were genuinely being investigated.
The victims reported that they lost more than $200,000 in total. The police did not disclose the number of victims involved.
In a separate case, the police received a report on March 27 about a victim who had transferred $1,600 to a local bank account specified by an "online lover" whom he had never met before.
Investigations revealed that a 27-year-old man had befriended a number of people online via various dating applications and then communicated with them through chat application, Telegram.
After getting to know them, the man started borrowing money on the pretext of family emergencies.
He allegedly scammed a number of them this way of more than $4,000 before his arrest.
The police said officers from the Commercial Affairs Department had established the identities of the five suspects involved in the scams through follow-up investigations and with the aid of images from police cameras.
They were arrested between May 11 and Monday.
One of them - a 31-year-old man - is also believed to be operating as an unlicensed remittance agent.
Police investigations are ongoing.
Those found guilty of cheating may face a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine.
Those found guilty of impersonating a public servant face jail of up to two years, a fine, or both.
Unless exempted, those found guilty of carrying on a business of providing any type of payment service in Singapore without a licence face jail of up to three years, a fine of up to $125,000, or both.