Victims of 'China officials' scams lose over $5.3m between January and May this year

Screenshots of a victim's mobile phone showing instructions from a scammer, who was impersonating a "Chinese official", on where and how to deposit the money.
Screenshots of a victim's mobile phone showing instructions from a scammer, who was impersonating a "Chinese official", on where and how to deposit the money.PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

SINGAPORE - Ninety-two reports of China officials impersonation scams were received from January to May this year, with at least $5.3 million cheated from victims, the police said in a statement on Wednesday (Aug 21).

These ruses usually involve scammers impersonating as staff from courier companies or officers from government organisations.

The scammers would inform victims that their mobile phone numbers had been involved in crimes, parcels under their names containing illegal goods had been detained or that there were pending court cases against them.

Subsequently, the scammers would get the victims to provide their personal particulars or bank account details, including Internet banking credentials and one-time passwords, for investigation purposes. The calls would sometimes be transferred to other people, who would identify themselves as police officers from China.

Victims might also be shown copies of warrants for their arrest from Chinese police and threatened with imprisonment if they refused to cooperate. The victims would then discover that their money had been transferred from their bank accounts to unknown bank accounts.

In other cases, scammers would instruct victims to scan QR codes and transfer money using bitcoin-vending machines. Victims might also be asked to withdraw money from their bank accounts to be handed over to a "government officer" for verification. The scammers would also keep the victims on the phone lines to ensure that they did not have the opportunity to verify the authenticity of the calls.

The Singapore police advise members of the public not to believe the callers if they receive unsolicited calls from unknown numbers. They should not give any identification or personal details and remain calm throughout the call, the police said.

 
 

Those who wish to provide information on such scams may call the police on 1800-255-0000, or send the information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness

For scam-related advice, they can call the anti-scam helpline on 1800-722-6688 or visit www.scamalert.sg