A 21-year-old woman has been arrested by the police for her suspected involvement in a case of China Official Impersonation Scam (COIS).
Scam victim was allegedly kidnapped
On Sep. 20, the police received a report that another 21-year-old woman had allegedly been kidnapped.
Before the report was made, the parents of the victim, who were based in China, received a video of the victim with her hands and legs tied up, with a ransom demand from an unknown person communicating in Mandarin.
Based on a photo of a text conversation between the scammer and the victim's parents, they had threatened to harm the victim and asked for RMB1 million (S$200,595) as the ransom amount.
Following the report, officers from Tanglin Police Division, Criminal Investigation Department, Police Intelligence Department and Commercial Affairs Department, conducted extensive searches and investigations to locate the victim.
She was eventually found to be safe and sound in a Yishun flat on Sep. 22.
The flat was rented by the 21-year-old woman, who was later arrested.
Victim transferred more than S$350,000 to avoid deportation
The police found that the victim had received an unsolicited call from an officer from the Ministry of Health in Singapore who alleged that a phone line registered in the victim’s name was used to cheat people in China.
When the victim denied this, the call was redirected to another scammer purporting to be an officer from the “China Police”, who further alleged that a bank account in her name was also found to be involved in money laundering activities in China.
Threatening the victim with threats of deportation, the scammer deceived her into transferring more than S$350,000 as “bail money” to bank accounts provided by the scammer.
Victim asked to record ransom video and isolate herself
Acting on the scammer’s instructions, the victim also recorded a video of herself being tied up to assist in the purported investigations.
The scammer then told the victim to cease communication and isolate herself in a “safe house” that the scammer had arranged.
Unknown to the victim, the scammer sent the compromised video to her parents in China and demanded a ransom for her release.
The police managed to trace and locate the victim at the unit rented by the 21-year-old woman.
Follow-up investigations revealed that the 21-year-old woman had acted on the scammer’s instructions to rent the room for the victim, and handed over a mobile phone with SIM card for the victim to use to communicate with the scammer.
Police investigations are ongoing.
China police have no jurisdiction to conduct operations in Singapore
From Jan. 2022 to Aug. 2022, 476 COIS cases were reported, with losses amounting to at least S$57.3 million.
The China Police, INTERPOL and other overseas law enforcement agencies (LEAs) have no jurisdiction to help with any form of investigations without the approval of the Singapore government.
"The police take a serious view against any person who may be involved in scams, whether knowingly or unwittingly, and they would be dealt with severely in accordance with the law," said the Singapore Police Force.
The police advises one to take precautions when they receive unsolicited calls, especially from unknown parties and especially those with the “+” prefix which originate overseas.
Members of the public are advised to:
JUSTCLICK & CONNECT