Former American Football player Kamari Charlton has been arrested in Singapore for his alleged involvement in defrauding a number of Australians of thousands of dollars plus overstaying his tourist visa. Singapore authorities said they are also investigating Charlton for money laundering offences.
Staying in Singapore more than 90 days after the expiration of a visitor’s visa is punishable with a maximum jail term of six months and at least three cane strokes. Cheating is punished with a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine. If convicted of the visa charge, Charlton would be the first US citizen to be caned in Singapore since 1994, when then-teenager Michael Fay was punished for vandalism.
Police alleged Charlton has been involved with a telephone fraud that targeted elderly Australian citizens of Croatian heritage. It appears that telephone calls were made to elderly Croatian Australians from people claiming to be friends with their relatives.
The callers spun stories which centred on the relative being stranded somewhere overseas and needing urgent funds to buy a plane ticket or obtain medical treatment. Many of the elderly Croatian Australians fell for the fraud as the callers spoke Croatian and knew intricate details of their family members.
The victims were directed to transfer funds via Western Union. It is believed that there are around twenty four separate victims in Australia, with one victim losing US$24,000. Reports about the frauds were made to local Police and some of the phone calls and money transfers were traced to Singapore and allegedly direct to Charlton. Assistance was provided by Interpol to coordinate the investigation.
To protect yourself against any similar scam requesting you send funds for an emergency, follow these guidelines:
- Treat any phone calls from strangers claiming to be calling on behalf of a friend or relative with great suspicion
- Always ask for the full name of the caller, their location and contact number and insist on a landline number
- Following the call, make your own inquiries as to the current location and predicament of your friend or relative to cross reference the claims made by the caller
- Relate the call to a good friend, work colleague or neighbour for their opinion as to the veracity of the call
- Do not send funds to any bank account unless you’re certain the request is genuine and you have spoken personally with the friend or relative
- Only send funds to a bank account previously known to belong to your friend or relative
- Never send funds to Western Union or other money transfer service
- If suspicious at any time, make a report to your local Police