Two S’pore-based victims of staged kidnapping scam found in Cambodia
Two victims living in Singapore who were duped by scammers into staging separate kidnappings were found in Cambodia in October, thanks to joint investigations by police from both countries.
In a media statement on Friday, the Singapore police said the two victims, aged 21 and 22, who are university students, were reported by their parents in China to have been kidnapped.
But with help from the Cambodian National Police (CNP), they were subsequently found in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and were reunited with their family.
The police said investigations into both cases are ongoing.
Both cases are similar, with the victims’ parents receiving a video from an unknown person showing their child with hands bound. This was followed by many ransom demands.
Each victim, while in Singapore, had received a call from someone who claimed to be a police officer from China.
In the case of the 21-year-old student, he was told that his particulars had been used to spread misinformation about monkeypox cases in China.
The 22-year-old victim was accused of having a mobile number registered in his name that was associated with the spread of Covid-19-related rumours in Guangdong, China.
In both cases, the victim was ordered to assist in police investigations and was told to travel to Cambodia to carry out certain missions as part of the investigations.
When the victims arrived in Phnom Penh, they were told to record videos of themselves pretending to be a kidnap victim for the purposes of scam education and investigations. They were also instructed to stay at different hotels and to cease all communication with family and friends.
The parents of the 21-year-old student, who has been living here for four years, made a police report in Singapore on Oct 19 after receiving a video of the alleged kidnapping and a demand for two million yuan (S$389,000) for the release of their son.
The 22-year-old’s parents filed a police report on Oct 22 after receiving a similar video and a ransom demand of 800,000 yuan.
No ransom was paid in both cases, said the police.
They conducted extensive searches and investigations to locate the victims and established that they had left Singapore.
With assistance from the CNP and the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh, the first victim was found on Oct 21, while the other man was found on Tuesday.
Commercial Affairs Department director David Chew extended his appreciation to the CNP for their “strong support and assistance” in locating and ensuring the safety of the two victims.
He also urged members of the public, especially foreign students based here, to be cautious of similar scams.
He said: “Demands made by overseas law enforcement officers requesting victims to comply with their orders in Singapore, including orders to remit money overseas, transfer money into Singapore bank accounts, deliver documents in Singapore or travel overseas to carry out secret police missions are illegal, and should be ignored.
“Members of the public who are targeted by these criminals, especially foreign students in Singapore, are advised to check with the Singapore Police Force or call your embassy or high commission to verify the claims of the purported police officers from your home country.”
Police figures have previously revealed that more foreigners are falling victim to scams in Singapore, with the amount of money lost more than doubling from $40.4 million in 2020 to $88 million in 2021.
The number of cases involving foreign victims increased from 3,431 in 2020 to 5,210 in 2021.