SINGAPORE: Two men aged 21 and 25 have been arrested for their suspected involvement in China officials impersonation scams which involved staged kidnappings, said the police on Saturday (Jan 20).
The two victims in the cases lost nearly S$450,000 (US$335,800) to the scams, according to the Singapore Police Force (SPF) in a news release.
On Wednesday, the Police received two separate reports that a 19-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man had allegedly been kidnapped.
The parents of the victims, who were based in China, had received videos of the victims being tied up, with ransom demands from unknown people talking in Mandarin.
The victims’ parents contacted their friends in Singapore, who in turn reported the incidents to the police. Police tracked down the victims and found that they had fallen prey to China officials impersonation scams.
In the first case, the 19-year-old female victim received an unsolicited call on Oct 31, purportedly from an Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officer. She was then routed to another scammer claiming to be a police officer from China.
The officer alleged that her particulars were used to sign up for a bank card involved in money-laundering activities in China.
She was also told that to avoid arrest and deportation, she had to hand over money for her bail and to resolve the case. In all, she transferred more than S$230,000 to the bank accounts of the “China Police”, SPF said.
The victim was also made to report to the “China Police” through video calls on her mobile phone five times daily, as part of purported ongoing investigations.
In early January, the scammer asked her to assist in the investigations by recording a video of herself being tied up and pretending that she was captured. She was told the video would be used to spread scam awareness.
The scammer arranged for the video recording to be facilitated by the 25-year-old suspect, who acted in the staged kidnap scene where he pointed a kukri knife at the female victim to make the video more convincing.
About a week later, the scammer instructed the female victim to isolate herself at a safehouse arranged by the 25-year-old man and cease communication with others, including her parents, to facilitate investigations.