Over the past 2 days, the Police have received three reports where parents and guardians reported on the kidnap of Chinese national students in Singapore.
The modus operandi of such scams is as follows:
Step 1: Victims, typically Chinese national students, received unsolicited calls from strangers informing that they are government officials. These calls usually employ caller-ID spoofing technology and may look like they are from official government hotline numbers such as 110 or 999.
Step 2: Victims were then informed that they had committed criminal offences and were required to assist in criminal investigations by doing any of the following, in order to prove that the money they owned was legitimate.
Victims were asked to withdraw their money and pass it to strangers or transfer the money via cryptocurrency cash deposit machine or to another bank account.
Victims were instructed to update their whereabouts to the scammers over the next few days. Thereafter, the syndicate would inform the victims to change their SIM cards and log out from their social media messenger.
Victims also gave their personal information on their families in China to scammers who made use of such information to cheat their parents.
Step 3: Scammers contacted victims' parents who are based overseas, to inform that their children were kidnapped and demand payment of ransoms.
For one of the reports, a female Chinese national studying in Singapore received an unsolicited call on 11 June 2018 from a scammer who claimed to be a Chinese government official. The scammer alleged that the victim is involved in a child smuggling case and requested for her to assist in their criminal investigation. Acting on the scammer's instructions, the victim withdrew S$22,010 from her bank account and handed the monies to an unknown man. She also withdrew another S$4,800 to purchase cryptocurrencies for the scammers. Subsequently, the victim was instructed to provide her personal information, including details of her family in China, to them. The victim was then instructed not to contact anyone in the days that followed. The scammers then contacted her parents to claim that their daughter had been kidnapped by them in Singapore. Even though there was no monetary loss suffered by the victim's parents, the scammers have managed to instil fear and helplessness into them.
Police take a serious view against any person who may be involved in scams, whether knowingly or unwittingly. Anyone found to be involved in such scams will be subjected to Police investigations. Under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, any person who is guilty of knowingly assisted in dealing with the monies derived from criminal conduct shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $500,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or to both.
Police would also like to advise members of the public to take the following precautions when they receive unsolicited calls, especially from unknown parties:
Ignore such calls and the caller's instructions. No government agency will instruct payment through a telephone call or other social messaging platforms (WeChat or Facebook); or ask you for personal banking information such as your internet banking passwords
For foreigners receiving calls from persons claiming to be from Police in your home country, call your Embassy/High Commission to verify the claims of the caller.
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. Do not make any funds transfer.
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 any information related to such crime, 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 www.scamalert.sg. Please share this advisory with your family and friends to prevent them from being the next scam victim.
Source: Singapore Police Force