SINGAPORE: Two Malaysian men have been arrested for their suspected involvement in a series of China officials impersonation scams, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) announced at a press conference on Tuesday (Jun 5).
The two suspects – aged 18 and 33 – were nabbed by police on Monday after a raid at Ubi Avenue 1 and cash amounting to S$590,000 was seized.
It is the largest cash amount seized in scam this year, the police said.
The pair, who are believed to be involved in several cases, allegedly cheated two women earlier this month of S$410,000 in total.
Police said they received reports on Jun 1 and Jun 2 that the women - aged 51 and 55 - had received calls from strangers who claimed to be police officials from China.
The callers told the women that they were involved in a transnational money laundering crime and instructed them to withdraw all their savings for investigations.
The 51-year-old woman then transferred S$100,000 to a bank account while the 55-year-old woman handed over S$310,000 to an unknown man, police said.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the two suspects had received money linked to China officials impersonation scams and are believed to be involved in other similar cases.
The men will be charged with dishonestly receiving stolen property on Wednesday.
If convicted, each of them could be jailed for up to five years, fined, or both.
The 33-year-old was in Singapore on a social visit pass while the 18-year-old is a permanent resident. They will be remanded in custody and investigations are ongoing.
Another suspect who was also involved in the case, 18-year-old Malaysian national Chan Wai Chung, was charged in court last Saturday under the similar offence of dishonestly receiving stolen property.
At the press conference, Director for SPF’s commercial affairs department David Chew stressed that such scams are a “serious crime concern”.
“The number of victims has more than doubled from January to April 2018 as compared to the same period in 2017 and the losses suffered by the victims per case can be sizable,” he said.
Mr Chew also advised members of the public that if they receive calls from people claiming to be a foreign government official demanding money, they are advised to ignore such demands as they are “in all likelihood” a scam.
Last month, a 31-year-old Malaysian man was arrested for allegedly cheating a woman of S$5.4 million. According to police, the woman was led to believe that she had to surrender all her money to Chinese authorities to assist in investigations.
In a separate case in May, a 20-year-old Taiwanese man was also nabbed for cheating a man of S$14,600 by claiming to be from the Chinese police.
Police would like to advise members of the public to take precautions when they receive unsolicited calls to surrender money. Investigations into all suspects are ongoing.