SINGAPORE - When a man claiming to be a Manpower Ministry (MOM) official called to warn that he was facing deportation, Mr Chaudhuri, an Indian national working as an academic researcher here, believed him.
The caller rattled off Mr Chaudhuri's full name, Foreign Identification Number, date of birth, when he arrived here and a case number. Even the caller's phone number - 64385122 - was the same as MOM's contact centre hotline.
After scolding Mr Chaudhuri for providing the incorrect date of birth in an embarkation form, the man provided a simple "solution". All Mr Chaudhuri had to do was pay a "refundable" fee of $1,000, which will be returned the same evening. He ended up paying $2,000 before he realised it was a scam and lodged a police report.
Mr Chaudhuri (not his real name) was not the only such victim.
The police issued a crime advisory last Friday warning of scammers who use a number that appears to be the MOM's hotline to warn victims of errors in their personal particulars. To settle issues relating to their stay in Singapore or work pass, the victims were then told to transfer money to an account.
From April 29 to May 22, there were 37 such cases reported.
Police said 15 victims have lost more than $31,000 this way, with the amounts ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 each.
The scam is similar to a spate of cases last year when conmen pretending to be Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore officers cheated more than 60 victims.
While some of the victims in this latest scam realised they were being had and lodged police reports without paying up, Mr Chaudhuri was not as fortunate.