S'pore police arrest man, 24, after victim, 18, told to take video with hands behind back as if kidnapped & transfer S$350,000 to scammer

The arrested man, it turns out, is believed to also be a victim of the China officials impersonation scam.

Belmont Lay | November 23, 2021, 04:23 AM

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The Singapore police have arrested a 24-year-old man for his suspected involvement in a case of China officials impersonation scam.

On Nov. 17, 2021, the police received a report that an 18-year-old man had allegedly been kidnapped.

Prior to the report, the parents of the victim, who were based in China, received a video of the victim and ransom demands from an unknown person in China.

The victim was eventually found to be safe and sound at a rented unit on Nov. 18, 2021.

This was after officers from Clementi Police Division, Criminal Investigation Department, Police Intelligence Department and Commercial Affairs Department conducted extensive searches and investigations to locate the victim.

What allegedly happened: First victim

Preliminary investigations revealed that the victim had received an unsolicited call from a scammer, who claimed to be an officer from the Ministry of Health in Singapore about a month ago in October.

The victim’s phone call was later redirected to two other scammers purportedly claiming to be police officers from China.

The scammers alleged that the victim’s particulars were used to open a bank account involved in money laundering activities in China.

The scammer further demanded the victim not to reveal the purported investigations to anyone and later allegedly deceived the victim into transferring more than S$350,000 as “bail money” to bank accounts provided by the scammer.

Victim recorded video of himself for scammer

Acting on the scammer’s instructions, the victim recorded a video of himself with his hands placed behind his back in order to assist in the purported investigations.

Without the victim’s knowledge, the scammer later sent this video to the victim’s parents in China and demanded a ransom to be paid for his release.

Second victim

Preliminary investigations also revealed that a 24-year-old man, who is believed to be another victim of the China officials impersonation scam, had allegedly acted on the scammer’s instructions to hand over an envelope, cash of S$100 and a mobile phone with SIM card to the victim for the victim’s communication with the scammer, and to book a room for the victim to stay in.

He also allegedly showed the victim a fake pass when they met.

Police investigations are ongoing.

If found guilty of the offence of using as genuine a forged document, the 24-year-old man faces a jail term up to four years, a fine, or both.

Those found guilty of the offence of cheating face a penalty of a jail term not exceeding 10 years.

Anyone who is convicted of the offence of money laundering shall face a penalty of a jail term not exceeding 10 years, a fine not exceeding S$500,000, or both.

Being involved in a scam unwittingly also a crime

The police said they take a serious view against any person who may be involved in scams, whether knowingly or unwittingly, and they will be dealt with severely in accordance with the law.

The police added that they would like to highlight that the China Police, Interpol and other overseas law enforcement agencies (LEAs) have no jurisdiction to conduct operations in Singapore, arrest anyone, or ask members of the public to help with any form of investigations without the approval of the Singapore government.

Police advice

The police also said they would also like to advise members of the public to take the following precautions when they receive unsolicited calls from unknown parties, especially those with the “+” prefix which originate from overseas:

• Ignore such calls and the caller’s instructions. No government agency will instruct payment through an undocumented media like 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 foreign residents receiving calls from persons claiming to be police officers or government officials from your home country, please call your embassy or 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, or One-Time Password (OTP) codes from tokens, are useful to criminals.

• Do not make any fund transfers if the caller is of dubious identity.

• Call a trusted friend or talk to a relative before you act. You may be overwhelmed by emotions and err in your judgment.

• If in doubt, always hang up the call and check with the Singapore Police Force.

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