A 15-year-old student was scammed into staging his own kidnapping on May 1, leading to his parents transferring 20,000 yuan (S$4,045) to a bank account in China.
In a press statement yesterday, the police said the teen had received an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be a police officer from China.
The conman told the teen, who is believed to be a Chinese student studying in Singapore, that there was a warrant against him in China for money laundering offences, and said that if he wanted to cancel the warrant, he would have to transfer money to a bank account in China.
According to the police, since the teen did not have the money to pay, he was told to stage his kidnapping to get his parents to pay instead.
He complied with the scammer's instructions, checking into a hotel room in Orchard Road on May 1.
"He was told not to contact anyone, and to take a photograph of himself being tied up," the police said.
He then sent the photo to his parents in China, requesting a ransom be paid to the Chinese bank account for his release.
Frightened, the parents transferred 20,000 yuan to the bank account and alerted the teen's guardian, who was in Singapore at the time, as they were unable to get in touch with their son.
The guardian called the police. Officers were deployed to find the teen, and found him safe in the hotel room.
The Straits Times understands that the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force is working with its counterparts in China on the case.
The police advised the public not to take unsolicited calls from unknown parties, and ignore the caller's instructions.
Government agencies do not ask for payment through a telephone call or social messaging platforms such as WeChat or Facebook, or personal banking information such as Internet banking passwords.
Foreigners who receive calls from people claiming to be police officers from their home countries should call their embassy or high commission to verify such claims.
To seek scam-related advice, members of the public may call the anti-scam helpline on 1800-722-6688 or go to www.scamalert.sg