At least $4.8 million lost to fake China official scams from Jan to April
Police say 65 reports made between January and April
Victims of China official impersonation scams lost at least $4.8 million between January and April, the police said yesterday.
There were 65 reports during that period, said the police in a press release yesterday.
Scammers typically impersonate staff from courier companies or officers from government organisations.
They then tell victims that a mobile number registered in their name had been involved in a crime, or a parcel under their name containing illegal goods had been confiscated, or they had committed a crime and had to assist in investigations, among other claims.
The scammers would ask the victims to provide their personal particulars, bank account details, Internet banking credentials and one-time passwords for investigation purposes.
In some cases, the call would be transferred to another person who would identify himself as a police officer from China.
In other cases, victims might be shown a purported copy of a warrant for their arrest in China and are threatened with jail if they did not cooperate.
If victims fall prey to the scam, they will subsequently discover that money has been transferred from their bank accounts to other unknown bank accounts.
And scammers are getting creative - bitcoin ending machines are involved in another variant of the scam.
According to the release from the Singapore police, these scammers would ask recipients to scan a QR code that has been sent to them at a bitcoin vending machine before depositing their money into the machine.
There were also cases where the victims were told to withdraw money from their bank accounts to be handed over to a "government officer" for verification purposes.
The scammers would keep the victims on the phone line to ensure they did not have the chance to verify the authenticity of the call.
In such situations, the police advise people to stay calm and not panic if they receive unsolicited calls, particularly from unknown numbers, and refrain from sharing any personal information or bank account details.
Said a spokesman: "Ignore the calls and caller's instructions. No government agency will request personal details or transfer of money over the phone or through automated voice machines.
"Call a trusted friend or talk to a relative before you act as you may be overwhelmed by emotion and err in your judgment."