Police officers don’t often (probably never ever) ask alleged suspects to record nude videos of themselves, of videos of themselves looking like hostages, to prove their innocence.
Yet, some Chinese scammers pretending to be policemen got their victims to do just that in order to extort money from their families.
One 19-year-old student, say the real Singapore police, fell prey to such a scam.
The Chinese national received a call from a bogus officer from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.
She was accused of spreading misinformation on Covid-19 in Guangzhou.
The victim was then made to report in real-time, through 24/7 video calls to fake China policemen using a mobile app.
The officers threatened to deport her if she did not put up 1 million yuan (S$200,000) as “bail”.
The student didn’t have that much money.
The fake cops then told her to record nude videos of herself to prove her innocence in a separate “criminal case”.
They also made her record a video in which she was wearing torn clothes and had her hands tied as though she had been held hostage.
The purpose of that video, they said, was to lure out and arrest syndicate members.
However, the scammers sent the video to the student’s parents in China instead, and with that video a ransom demand.
Her parents called one of her teachers in Singapore, and the teacher made a police report.
Police managed to track down the student hours later and that’s when she realised that she had been scammed.
This isn’t the first time scammers have pulled such tricks here.
In Sept 2022, a 16-year-old Chinese national was tricked into staging a similar hostage situation.
He was frightened after being accused by “officials” of smuggling contraband cigarettes into Singapore.
Separately in the same month, a 21-year-old woman was fooled into recording a video of herself with her hands and legs tied, which scammers used to solicit more than S$350,000 in “ransom” from her parents in China.
Police have warned the public to be wary of phone calls from people claiming to be from overseas law enforcement agencies, and to lodge a police report if they encounter suspicious phone calls.