It is not unusual for scammers to spin a web of lies to trick their victims, but one teenager in Singapore was not only duped into sending money to a stranger, he was also convinced into possibly committing a crime.
In a statement on Monday (May 6), the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said that the 15-year-old student had been scammed into staging his own kidnapping so he could extort money from his own parents as ransom
The student first received a call from a scammer who claimed to be a police officer from China on May 1, SPF said in its statement.
The scammer told the student that there was a police warrant issued against him in China for money laundering offences, and he had to transfer a sum of money to a bank account in China to cancel the warrant.
But the scammer’s first extortion attempt was unsuccessful as the student did not have the money.
Despite the initial failure, the scammer followed up by instructing the teenager to stage his own kidnapping so that he could get his parents to pay instead.
The teenager complied with the instructions and checked in to a hotel room along Orchard Road, SPF said. He was also told not to contact anyone.
Acting on the instructions of the fake police officer, the student took photos of himself being tied up and sent them to his parents in China. He also demanded for a ransom to be transferred to a Chinese bank account to secure his release.
Out of fear, the teenager’s parents transferred RMB20,000 (SG$4,021) to a bank account in China and alerted their son’s guardian as they could not contact him.
SPF said in its statement that police later found the teenager safe and sound in the hotel room.
In their statement, SPF said: “The police take a serious view against any person who may be involved in scams, whether knowingly or unwittingly. Anyone found to be involved in such scams will be subjected to police investigations.”
SPF also said unsolicited calls, especially from unknown parties, should be avoided. The authority added that government agencies would not ask for payment or personal banking information through a telephone call or social messaging platforms.
Foreigners receiving calls from people claiming to be from their home country should call the embassy or high commission to verify the claims of the caller, SPF said.
SPF also added that members of the public should refrain from giving out personal information and bank details on websites or to callers over the phone.
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