Police warn of re-emergence of phone impersonation scams

Police warn of re-emergence of phone impersonation scams

file photo phone woman 1
(File photo: Xabryna Kek)

SINGAPORE: The police have issued an advisory to remind the public to be wary of receiving calls from unknown parties, citing a re-emergence of phone impersonation scams. 

Members of the public have received calls purportedly from courier companies or government officials, the police said in their advisory on Thursday (Dec 7).

In one scenario, the caller claimed that a parcel under the recipient's name containing illegal goods was detained by the Chinese Customs. The call was then transferred to another person who identified himself as a police officer. 

In other cases, the caller alleged that the recipient had committed a criminal offence and was required to assist in criminal investigations. 

The scammer would then direct the recipient to provide his personal details, including Internet banking credentials and one-time passwords (OTP), to the “government officer” for investigation purposes.

A sum of money would then be transferred out of their bank account into other unknown bank accounts.

If they did not cooperate, the recipient would be threatened with imprisonment, in some cases. 

In other scam cases, the recipients were instructed to transfer a sum of money using Bitcoin vending machines instead, the police added.

The scammer would first send a QR code to the recipient and ask him to scan it at the Bitcoin vending machine before depositing money into the machine. 

There were also some cases where the recipient was asked to withdraw money from his bank account to hand over to a “government officer” for verification purposes.

Members of the public are advised to take the following measures when they receive unsolicited calls, especially from unknown parties:

1. Ignore the calls and caller’s instructions.

2. No government agency will request for personal details or transfer of money over the phone or through automated voice machines.

3. Scammers may use caller ID spoofing technology to mask the actual phone number and display a different number. Calls that appear to be from a local number may not actually be made from Singapore. If you receive a suspicious call from a local number, hang up, wait five minutes, then call the number back to check the validity of the request.

4. Do not provide your name, identification number, passport details, contact details, bank account or credit card details. Such information are useful to criminals.

5. Call a trusted friend or talk to a relative before you act. You may be overwhelmed by emotion and make an error in your judgment.

If anyone has related information on these scam calls, he can call the police hotline at 1 800 255 0000 or submit information online.  

Members of the public can also seek help by calling the anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or go to www.scamalert.sg.

Source: CNA/kc