Woman, 19, makes video of herself bound with mouth taped, obeying scammer posing as China police

A 19-year-old woman in Singapore was duped into making a video of herself bound with her mouth taped, which was sent to her parents in China with a ransom demand.

On Oct 14, the police received a report that the woman had been kidnapped.

Officers from Tanglin Police Division, Criminal Investigation Department, Police Intelligence Department and Commercial Affairs Department conducted extensive follow-up investigations and tracked down the woman in a Woodlands flat rented by a 22-year-old man, who was later traced and arrested for his involvement.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the woman had received an unsolicited call from a scammer claiming to be a Ministry of Health officer, who told the woman that she had a parcel containing illegal Covid-19 medicine detained at customs.

She was then routed to another scammer masquerading as China police, who said that a bank card in the woman’s name was found to be involved in money laundering activities in China, and that the banking facilities belonging to her and her family would be frozen as a result.

The scammer then suggested that the woman could transfer money for her case to be expedited. So she transferred $170,000 as a “security deposit” to a bank account controlled by the scammer.

The scammer also instructed the woman to make a video of herself with her hands and legs bound to pretend that she had been captured, which would be used for their investigations to lure and arrest the syndicate members.

On Oct 13, the scammer instructed her to isolate herself and cease communication with others to facilitate their investigations.

She was found safe and sound by police the next day.

Follow-up investigations revealed that the 22-year-old man had purportedly acted on the scammer’s instructions to rent the room for the woman and had handed over a SIM card for her to use for communication with the scammer.

Police investigations are ongoing.

A total of 548 China Officials Impersonation Scam cases were reported from January to September with losses amounting to at least $67.9 million, said police.

"The police would like to highlight that the 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."