SINGAPORE - The police arrested five suspects in relation to two cases of police officer impersonation.
In both cases, the victims received calls from unknown persons who claimed to be police officers.
The victims were told that they were being investigated by the police for money laundering and scam offences.
The calls were then transferred to unknown persons who identified themselves as police officers from a foreign country.
In a report lodged on March 22, a 31-year-old victim was given a link to an e-service website said to be from the Singapore Police Force.
The victim was then instructed to key in his Internet banking credentials on the website and also disclosed the One-Time-Password from his Internet banking dongle to the impersonator.
The victim's bank account was then accessed illegally and about $35,000 was transferred to an unknown bank account.
In the second case, reported on March 27, a 47-year-old victim was asked to apply for an Internet banking dongle and also provide her Internet banking credentials to the impersonator.
About $34,000 was transferred from her account without her knowledge.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the suspects, aged 20 to 44, are believed to be involved in other similar cases, and losses amount to a total of about $90,000.
If convicted of dishonestly receiving stolen property, they can be jailed up to five years, fined, or both.
Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Sekher Warrier said: "Offenders who think that they can hide behind the anonymity of the internet will be brought to justice swiftly."
The police clarified that the official police website address is www.police.gov.sg.
Members of the public are advised to take the following precautions when they receive unsolicited calls, especially from unknown parties:
- Ignore the calls. Scammers may use Caller ID spoofing technology to mask the actual phone number and display a different number. Calls that appear to be from a local number 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.
- Ignore instructions to remit or transfer money. No government agency will inform you to make a payment through a telephone call, especially to a third party's bank account.
- Refrain from giving out personal information and bank details, whether on the website or to callers over the phone. Personal information and bank details such as Internet bank account usernames and passwords, OTP codes from tokens, are useful to criminals.
- Call a trusted friend or talk to a relative before you act. You may be overwhelmed by emotion and err in your judgment.
If you have information related to such crimes, or if you are in doubt, please call the Police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or dial 999 for urgent Police assistance.
To seek scam-related advice, members of the public may call the anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or go to https://www.scamalert.sg.