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‘Kidnapped’ man turns out to be scam victim instructed to isolate in hotel room

THE STAR – The case of a man, 21, believed to have been kidnapped took an unexpected turn when the police found that the victim and his family had transferred more than SGD560,000 to scammers impersonating officials from China.

Acting on a scammer’s instructions, the victim isolated himself in a hotel room in Singapore and recorded videos of himself with his hands placed behind his back to convince his family in China that he was in trouble, the police said in a statement yesterday.

Last Friday, the police received a report at about 1.30am that a 21-year-old man had allegedly been kidnapped.

Based on the report, the police learnt that his family had been receiving videos of the victim and ransom demands from an unknown person with a Fujian accent who was believed to be in China.

Officers from the Tanglin Police Division, Criminal Investigation Department and Commercial Affairs Department were activated and conducted an extensive search operation and investigations to locate the victim.

He was eventually found to be safe in a hotel on the same day at about 9.30am, about eight hours after the police report was made.

A screenshot of the scammer demanding for money from the victim’s family and false credentials of China officials sent by the scammers. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

Preliminary investigations revealed the victim received an unsolicited call purportedly from an officer from the Ministry of Health in November last year.

The victim’s call was later redirected to other scammers who claimed to be police officers from China, the police said.

The scammers allegedly claimed that the victim was involved in money laundering offences in China and sought his cooperation to help their investigations.

Between December 22 last year and last Monday, the victim, who was also allegedly threatened, and his parent transferred more than SGD560,000 to bank accounts provided by the scammer on several occasions.

In the statement, the police reminded the public that China Police, Interpol and other overseas law enforcement agencies have no jurisdiction to conduct operations in Singapore, arrest anyone or ask members of the public to help with any form of investigations without the approval of the Singapore Government.

The police warned the public to take the following precautions when they receive unsolicited calls from unknown parties, especially those with the “+” prefix that indicates they originate from overseas callers.

No government agency will instruct payment through undocumented media like a telephone call or a social messaging platform such as WeChat, or ask for personal banking information such as Internet banking passwords, the police said.

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