Two accused of posing as Chinese police: $590k seized

Two Malaysian men were arrested on Monday in connection with a series of scams in which they allegedly impersonated Chinese police officials to con members of the public out of their money.

Police seized $590,000 in cash from the two men during a raid in Ubi Avenue 1 on Monday. It was the largest cash amount seized in any scam case this year.

The men, aged 18 and 33, are believed to be part of an international syndicate.

Impersonation scams are becoming more frequent, police told a news conference yesterday.

The number of victims of such scams has risen dramatically, from 30 between January and April 2017 to 80 in the same period this year. These 80 victims have lost at least $2.3 million.

In the latest case, the police received reports on June 1 and 2 that two women, aged 51 and 55, had received calls from men who claimed to be Chinese police officials.

The callers told the women that they were involved in a transnational money laundering crime and instructed them to withdraw their savings for investigations. The 51-year-old victim, who is unemployed, transferred $100,000 to a bank account and the other victim, a 55-year-old housewife, handed over $310,000 to an unknown man.

The 33-year-old man nabbed on Monday is a resident of the Malaysian state of Kedah, while the 18-year-old suspect is a Singapore permanent resident.

Both will be charged in court todaywith dishonestly receiving stolen property.

Another 18-year-old suspect, Chow Wai Chung, was charged in court last Saturday over the same case. In the meantime, the police are conducting further investigations to determine the identities of other victims of this scam.

On Monday, a Taiwanese man was sentenced in court for impersonating a police officer and cheating seven people out of nearly $1 million.

In a separate case in January, two Taiwanese men were nabbed for pretending to be Interpol officers and extorting $32,000 from a woman.

Mr Chew Jing Wei, head of the Syndicate Fraud Branch of the Commercial Affairs Department, has warned members of the public to be wary of such scams.

The police have advised people to ignore unsolicited calls to transfer money through undocumented mediums, and to refrain from giving out personal information and bank details either on websites or over the phone.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2018, with the headline 'Two accused of posing as Chinese police: $590k seized'. Print Edition | Subscribe