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     FrontPage Edition: Thu 16 November 2006

Four duped into parting with their cash and valuables in scam


Four Cheated In Two Weeks

Police would like to alert members of public to be wary of a scam where fraudsters offer solutions to ward off evil spirits or bad luck, duping victims into parting with their cash and valuables.
Typically, the scam is executed by a group of three. One of the fraudsters will first approach the victim asking for whereabouts of a well-known physician or fengshui master.
Posing as a passer-by, a second fraudster will then interrupt to offer to bring them to the master. The third fraudster, usually introduced as a relative of the master, will then impress upon the victim that something unfortunate will befall her family.
The victim, will then be instructed to hand over her jewellery and cash for a ritual. Within the same day, the items will be returned to the victim in a bag and she is advised to open the bag only after a few days.
When the victim finally opens the bag, she will find her jewellery and cash missing and in their place, a few apples and other items.
These scams first emerged in July 2002 and to date, 49 cases have been reported and 21 culprits were arrested. This year, Police had received eleven reports of such cases. Of these, four cases were reported in the first two weeks of November.
On 8 Nov 2006 , the victim, a 43-yr-old woman, was approached by a Chinese woman at about 9.30am , while walking towards a park at Tanah Merah Kechil Road. The woman asked if she knew of a well-known, 108-yr-old Taiwanese physician who lived nearby. At this juncture, another Chinese woman appeared and informed that she knew where to find him and offered to bring them to his residence.
Shortly after, they spotted a third Chinese woman, who was introduced to the victim as the granddaughter of the physician. She instructed them to wait while she went to obtain consent from the physician to attend to them. When she returned a few minutes later, she told the victim that the physician, who was also a Chinese medium, had commented that the victim was possessed by evil spirits and her son will be affected.
The victim was then instructed to hand over her jewellery and cash to be used for prayers. They were to be placed into a red plastic bag containing some fruits prepared by the alleged granddaughter. One of the Chinese woman then accompanied the victim to her home to retrieve her jewellery and cash before leading her back to the others at the park at Tanah Merah Kechil Road.
At the park, the victim handed her bag to the alleged granddaughter. The trio then moved a distance away where the alleged granddaughter was seen chanting a prayer. When they returned, a bag was handed to the victim and she was instructed to bring it home and open it after a few days.
When the victim arrived home, she felt something amiss and decided to open the bag. She found six apples, one roll of toilet paper, one roll of tissue paper and two pieces of stone in it. Her cash of about S$1600 and RM300 as well as jewellery of about $15,400 was missing.
The three Chinese women were described as follows:
Complexion: Fair
Age: In her 20s
Build: Slim
Hair: Short
Height: About 1.60m - 1.65m
Complexion: Tanned
Age: In her early 40s
Build: Slim
Hair: Shoulder length wavy
Height: About 1.55m - 1.60m
Complexion: Tanned
Age: In her late 40s
Build: Plump
Hair: Shoulder length wavy
Height: About 1.55m - 1.60m
Members of the public who have information on the suspects can call the Police Hotline at 1800-2550000.
Director Operations, Assistant Commissioner Wong Hong Kuan, said: "Call the Police at ^999 ̄ if in doubt. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Senior citizens due to their old age are vulnerable to crime. Explain the crime prevention measures to elderly members in your family as they could be victims of tricksters and criminals. It is important that they are aware of the precautionary measures to undertake, so as to protect themselves against crime."
14 November 2006 @ 6.30pm

Source: Media Release 14 Nov 2006

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