SINGAPORE: Police on Monday (Apr 13) issued an advisory alerting the public to a scam in which callers pretending to be Ministry of Health (MOH) staff would claim that Chinese officials had seized COVID-19 contraband medicine registered under the victims’ names. 

Since March, at least five reports of such scams have been made, with victims losing more than S$110,000 in total, police said. 

Scammers pretending to be MOH employees would call victims and then transfer them to the “Chinese police”, who were supposedly investigating the contraband medicine. 

“The victims would be duped into believing that their identities had been misused and that they needed to provide personal information such as NRIC, passport details and Internet banking credentials for investigation in order to absolve themselves from any criminal offence,” said the authorities. 

“The victims were also instructed not to disclose any information, and were asked to contact the ‘Chinese police’ on a daily basis,” they added. 

READ: False message circulating about bogus mask distributors robbing residents, warn police

OTHER CASES OF SIMILAR SCAMS

This is a new variant of the Chinese official impersonation scam, said police, with previous cases seeing scammers impersonating staff from courier companies and telecommunication service providers, as well as government officers.

Some scammers informed victims that their mobile number was linked to a crime, that there were pending court cases against them or that they had committed an offence and were required to assist in investigations.

“The police would like to emphasise to the public that authorities will not ask them for their banking credentials or to transfer monies to bank accounts,” the authorities said. 

People who receive unsolicited calls from unknown parties should ignore the calls and caller’s instructions.

READ: Police warn of fake cash giveaways on social media

No government agency will request for transfer of money, personal details or bank account login credentials over the phone, police added.

Some scammers are able to mask their actual phone number and display a different number. 

“Calls that appear to be from a local number may not actually be made from Singapore,” police said.

From Wednesday, all incoming international calls will be prefixed with a plus (+) sign. 

“Stay vigilant when receiving any unexpected international calls and reject those that spoof local numbers,” police advised.

People should not provide their name, identification number, passport details, contact details, bank account or credit card details and One-Time-Password (OTP). 

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