Police Foil China Officials Impersonation Scams Involving Bitcoins
The Police would like to advise members of the public to beware of China Officials Impersonation Scams where victims have been cheated by scammers to transfer money using Bitcoin machines.
On 18 April 2019, the Police were alerted to a case of vandalism where scam alert posters which were affixed beside a Bitcoin machine at Tampines One Mall had been torn off. Through extensive ground enquiries and investigations, officers from Bedok Police Division established the identity of the 45-year-old man, who is believed to have removed the posters, and traced him on 26 April 2019. During follow-up investigations, the 45-year-old man reported that he had received a call from someone purporting to be a foreign law enforcement officer who claimed that he was under investigation for a transnational crime. He was instructed by the caller to transfer a total of $1000 to an account using the Bitcoin machine at Tampines One Mall on two occasions. The man also reported that the scammer had directed him to remove and dispose the scam alert posters next to the machine. Investigations are ongoing.
While conducting ground enquiries at Tampines One Mall for the said case of vandalism, officers from Bedok Police Division managed to prevent a 32-year-old man from falling victim to the scam and also stopped a 49-year-old man from making further transfer of money to scammers. The two men in both cases had received a call from a scammer who identified himself as a foreign law enforcement officer. The men were told that their bank accounts were used in ongoing investigations relating to the trafficking of human organs in China, and were instructed to transfer money using the Bitcoin machine for verification purposes. The officers managed to prevent the 32-year-old man from transferring any money. However, the 49-year-old man, who was in the midst of transferring money when he was stopped by officers, subsequently informed that he had already transferred $16350.
The Police advise members of the public to take the following precautions when they receive unsolicited calls to surrender money to avoid criminal investigations:
Ignore such calls and the caller’s instructions.
No government agency in Singapore will demand payment over the telephone or other social messaging platforms (e.g. WeChat or Facebook), or demand that you surrender 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, please call your Embassy/High Commission to verify the claims of the caller.
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 and passwords, OTP codes from tokens, are useful to criminals. Do not make any funds transfer at the behest of such callers.
Call a trusted friend or talk to a relative before you act. Do not be pressured by the caller to act impulsively.
Call the anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or visit www.scamalert.sg for scam related advice.
Source: Singapore Police Force