By CCN.com: A police investigation involving bitcoin machines at Tampines One Mall in Singapore saved a 32-year-old man from scammers impersonating officials. They also helped a 49-year-old man not to transfer any more of his bitcoin to the alleged lying thieves.
Singapore police warned on Saturday:
“Do not fall for scammers who impersonate officials from China and ask victims to transfer money using bitcoin machines.”
“No government agency in Singapore will demand payment over the telephone or other social messaging platforms, such as WeChat or Facebook, or demand that you surrender cash to unnamed people. They would also not ask for personal banking information, such as your Internet banking passwords.”
Reportedly the 49-year-old man was tearing down posters near a bitcoin teller machine. Witnesses called the police to report vandalism in the mall. But when police investigated they discovered the posters were part of an elaborate and malicious scam.
Claiming to be an alert about bitcoin from the authorities, the posters lured their target to call a phone number. When the 49-year-old man called, the scammers impersonated authorities from China. They allegedly told him that he was under investigation for a transnational crime.
Then they ordered the man to transfer a total of $1,000 ($734 USD) worth of bitcoin to their wallets on two occasions. The victim complied and sent them his bitcoin.
While police were watching the area for more information, another potential victim, this time a 32-year-old man, was about to call the number on the poster before they stopped him.
In January the Singaporean government warned of a hoax claiming the Republic of Singapore would officially adopt a cryptocurrency.
It seems that scammers have found they can exploit the trust people have in government. In an environment as new and unfamiliar as cryptocurrency, people are more likely to be careful with entrepreneurs they don’t really know, and more instantly trustful of someone who they believe is working for the government.
Between September and November last year, $78,000 worth of cryptocurrencies held by investors living in Singapore were lost to swindles by scammers.
Because Singapore’s thriving tech sector and highly wired economy is a hotbed of cryptocurrency enterprise, the government and financial authorities have been swift to police fraud in cryptocurrency.