Friday, April 19, 2024
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Brunei Town

Police on the hunt for scammers

James Kon

The Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) is seeking several suspects in connection to a scam-calling syndicate which has reportedly made off with over BND250,000 by pretending to be bank officials and obtaining online banking information from victims.

Seven male suspects allegedly involved in the scam were detained by the Commercial Crime Investigation Division, the RBPF said in a statement yesterday.

The suspects aged 28 to 53, comprised four locals, two permanent residents and a foreigner. Nine mobile phones were also seized, said the RBPF.

The suspects were alleged to be owners of business accounts that had received money from victims, and middlemen who looked for business account owners and collected the stolen money.

Several suspects are still wanted in connection to the case with investigations ongoing, said the RBPF.

According to the police, the scam involves a caller pretending to be an official from a bank or the central bank. The caller would contact the victim and incite panic by informing them that they had made too many transactions from their bank account, and would ask for verification on those transactions.

PHOTO: FreePik

The caller would then instruct the victim to provide information such as the victim’s user ID and online banking password, before telling the victim to delete their online banking app and to not call anyone.

The police said that the Telegram app is frequently used as the mode of communication by the scammers. The incidents were first reported in May, and losses from victims have reached BND253,900.

The suspects would receive a commission of three to four per cent of the proceeds of the scam, said the RBPF.

In light of the case, the RBPF cautioned the public against schemes such as renting out personal bank accounts for profit, as individuals found doing so could be charged with money laundering. Section 3, Money Laundering, Criminal Asset Recovery Order 2012 carries a fine of no more than BND500,000, 10 years jail or both. If the case involves a corporate body, the fine can go up to BND1 million.

Meanwhile, anyone found guilty of renting or registering a telephone SIMcard to other people could be charged with fraud.

The RBPF advised the public to be cautious of calls from unknown numbers, not click on links from social media adverts or unknown parties. The police also advised that in the event of an incident, to contact the related bank, deactivate their online banking as fast as possible and to lodge a report with the RBPF.

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