3 police reports made over kidnapping scams involving foreign students in Singapore

Victims would usually receive calls from phone numbers resembling government hotlines, then told that they had committed criminal offences and were required to assist in investigations. Photo credit: The New Paper
Victims would usually receive calls from phone numbers resembling government hotlines, then told that they had committed criminal offences and were required to assist in investigations. Photo credit: The New Paper

SINGAPORE – Three police reports have been made over the past two days over kidnapping scams involving foreign students, the police said on Saturday (June 16).

In one case, a female student studying in Singapore was cheated of $22,010 and another $4,800 to purchase cryptocurrencies for the scammers.

“The victims, who are typically Chinese national students, received calls from strangers claiming they are government officials,” said the police.

The calls usually used caller ID spoofing technology, with phone numbers resembling government hotline numbers such as 110 or 999.

The victims were then told they had committed criminal offences and were required to assist in investigations to prove the money they owned was legitimate, the police added.

This included either withdrawing their money and handing it to strangers, or transferring the money using cryptocurrency cash deposit machine or to another bank account.

They were then asked to update their whereabouts to scammers over the next few days, and change their SIM cards and log out from their social media messenger.

Victims were also asked to give personal information on their families in China to the scammers, who used the information to cheat their parents.

The scammers would then contact the victims’ parents, who are based overseas, to inform them that their children were kidnapped and demand payment of ransoms.

The female student, who was cheated of $26,810, was told not to contact any one in the next few days, while the scammers contacted her parents to claim that their daughter had been kidnapped by them in Singapore, said police.

“Even though there was no monetary loss suffered by the victim’s parents, the scammers managed to instil fear and helplessness into them,” police added.

Police added that it takes a “serious view” against any person involved in such scams, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Anyone found to be involved will be subjected to police investigations.

Those guilty of knowingly assisted in dealing with money obtained from criminal conduct will be liable of a fine of up to $500,000 or up to 10 years’ jail, or both.

The public is also advised to take precautions when they receive unsolicited calls.

Those who have any information related to such a crime can call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or dial 999 for urgent police assistance.

The public can also call 1800-722-6688 for scam-related advice, or visit www.scamalert.sg.

text CHARMAINE NG

This article was originally published on THE STRAITS TIMES.


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