Between January and November 2019, at least 401 reports of China Officials impersonation scams were received, with at least $18.8 million cheated. From August to November 2019, the Police received 242 reports of such scams, with at least $10.8 million cheated. Such scams typically involved scammers impersonating as staff members from courier companies, telecommunication service providers, or officers from government organisations informing victims of the following:
How this scam works:
Such scams typically involved scammers impersonating as staff members from courier companies, telecommunication service providers, or officers from government organisations informing victims of the following:
- A mobile number registered in their name was involved in a crime;
- A parcel under their name containing illegal goods was detained;
- There was a pending case in court against them; and/or
- They had committed a criminal offence and were required to assist in investigations.
The scammer would then direct the victim to provide their personal particulars and bank account details, including internet banking credentials and One-Time Password (OTP) for investigation purposes. In some cases, the call would be transferred to another person who would identify himself as a police officer from China. Victims might be shown a copy of a warrant for their arrest from the China Police and were threatened with imprisonment if they did not cooperate. Subsequently, the victims would discover that monies had been transferred from their bank account to unknown bank accounts.
In another variant of this scam, scammers would instruct victims to scan a QR code and transfer a sum of money using Bitcoin vending machines. There were also some cases where victims were asked to withdraw money from their bank accounts to be handed over to a “Government Officer” for verification purposes. The scammers kept the victims on the phone line to ensure that they did not have the opportunity to verify the authenticity of the call.