Woman in S'pore handed over S$1 million in cash to scammers impersonating China officials

A 66-year-old man was arrested for his suspected involvement in the scam.

Syahindah Ishak | March 11, 2021, 12:20 PM

A 66-year-old man has been arrested for his suspected involvement in a China officials impersonation scam, according to a press release by the Singapore Police Force (SPF).

Handed over S$1 million to two female "agents"

The police received a report from a female victim on April 9, 2020.

She had received unsolicited calls from unknown persons claiming to be Chinese authorities.

She was purportedly deceived into thinking that she was being investigated for transnational crimes.

She was then instructed by the scammers to hand over money to two female "agents" to absolve herself from any criminal offence.

The woman handed over around S$1 million in cash to the "agents", said SPF.

"Agents" allegedly followed instructions from scammers

Preliminary investigations by officers from the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) revealed that the two female "agents" allegedly acted under the instructions of the scammers to meet other persons in various parts of Singapore to collect cash from the victims.

The women were told by the scammers that the funds would be sent to the Chinese authorities.

66-year-old man identified by police

Further investigations by the police established the identity of a 66-year-old man.

Investigations also found that the man received S$209,370 in criminal proceeds from one of the women between March 31, 2020 and April 8, 2020.

The man allegedly carried on a cross-border money transfer business when he did not have a valid licence in force that allowed him to perform such services.

He was believed to have acted on the instructions of unidentified foreign clients to receive the said cash and to make arrangements with foreign business contacts in Hong Kong.

The sum of S$209,370 was recovered and seized by the police.

Man to be charged in court

The man will be charged in court on March 11, 2021 under Section 5 of the Payment Services Act 2019.

SPF said that it is an offence for anyone to carry on a business of providing any type of payment services in Singapore without a licence, unless he or she is exempted under the Act.

Individuals who are convicted of an offence under the Act can be jailed for up to three years, fined up to S$125,000, or both.

SPF: Take precautions when you receive unsolicited calls

SPF advised members of the public to take precautions when they unsolicited calls to hand over money to others.

Those who receive such calls should ignore it.

SPF also said that no local government agency will demand payment through an undocumented medium like a telephone call or other social messaging platforms.

Local government agencies would also not demand that you hand over cash to unnamed persons, or ask you for personal banking information such as your internet banking passwords.

For foreign residents receiving calls from persons claiming to be police officers or government officials from your home country, you can call your embassy or high commission to verify the claims of the caller.

SPF said that you should refrain from giving out personal information and bank details, whether on a website or to callers over the phone.

Personal information and bank details, such as internet bank account usernames, passwords or OTP codes from tokens, are useful to criminals.

You should also not make any funds transfer at the behest of such callers.

SPF added: "Call a trusted friend or talk to a relative before you act. Do not be pressured by the caller to act impulsively."

If in doubt, call '999' or approach a police officer at the Neighbourhood Police Centre near you.

The police also warned members of the public not to collect money from other persons on behalf of unsolicited callers claiming to be officers from law enforcement agencies.

Such callers are likely to be scammers, and members of the public who act on their instructions would be arrested and investigated.

Top images via Unsplash & by Julia Yeo.