The phone scammers that have been impersonating officers of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and officials overseas have "slightly shifted" their tactics, the police announced on Wednesday (Jun 8).
Recent cases have scammers impersonating SPF officers or local courier companies such as SingPost, the authorities said. In previous cases, the scammers had said that they were representing DHL.
Police said that since March, they have received more than 50 reports of scammers impersonating overseas officials to trick their victims into sending more than S$4 million in total.
In these scams, the perpetrators would tell victims that parcels had been shipped in their names. This is almost identical to a series of fraud cases in Hong Kong and China since mid-2015, SPF said.
However, more recently, some victims have received calls with spoofed local numbers, informing them that the parcels were delivered to local addresses. They were then asked to remit monies to bank accounts in China or make fund transfers through internet banking to accounts in Malaysia.
Other recent victims have been asked to visit a website where they were directed to enter their personal information such as their names, passport details and bank details, the police said. Disclosing such personal information may allow scammers to access the victims’ internet banking accounts, they warned.
SPF said no Government agency would inform people to make payment through a phone call, especially to a third party's bank account. They also advised people who receive a suspicious call from a local number to hang up and call back after five minutes, as the scammers may be using Caller ID spoofing technology to appear to be calling from a different number from their actual phone number.
The authorities advised the public to refrain from giving out personal information and talk to trusted friends or relatives before they act, as well as to contact the police if in doubt or if in possession of any information related to such a crime.
"EVASIVE" BEHAVIOUR BY SCAMMERS
Some individuals Channel NewsAsia spoke to shared their experience receiving scam calls of a different nature. "I picked up, heard an automated message in Mandarin, caught the word 'DHL', and hung up," said Mr Zahir Latif, 31, who added he was previously aware of the scam impersonating the global courier. "I've gotten the 'kidnapped child' phone scam too, but too bad it was in Mandarin - again."
Mr Kenneth Goh, 47, said his 10-year-old daughter picked up a call on their home line with both parents out at work. She heard an automated voice message in English claiming to also be from DHL, and hung up.
Another individual, Juancho Pineda, was on the receiving end of a call from someone impersonating the police. "I received a call from someone claiming to be from Serangoon Police Station but with no caller ID. He said that I’m suspected of borrowing money from loansharks," he said. "I told him I have money and there was never a need to borrow. When I asked for details, he was evasive and asked me to meet him. I told him I could not be bothered and that if he's legitimate he can visit me in my office."
Added Mr Pineda: "He started to inquire about personal details so I had the suspicion that it was most likely a scammer and ignored him afterwards."
"Then I called the police in Serangoon who advised me it was likely a scam and told me to brush it off. There’s been nothing since."