DHL: International logistics giant, or phone scam?

Jul 07, 2016 04.00PM |

by Suhaile Md

POOR DHL. Imagine a multinational, with €59.2 billion ($88.6 billion) revenue last year, making a name for itself as a label for a scam.

Although the scammers have impersonated other organisations like the Ministry of Manpower, Singapore Post (SingPost) and even the Singapore Police Force (SPF), DHL seems to be the most prominent. It’s become so common for scammers to impersonate DHL, that it’s now the butt of jokes, with some, like the young man below who goes by online moniker CreepaCrusher, awaiting the phone scam, just to catch calls on tape and troll the scammer at the other end.



Now it’s got even more publicity, thanks to comedian Hossan Leong. Last Saturday (July 2), in a bid to raise public awareness, the SPF posted a three-minute Facebook video of Mr Leong, where he gets scammed by someone pretending to be from DHL. And the video went viral, garnering nearly 180,000 views and over 6,300 shares in five days.

Hopefully, the viral video has helped to boost awareness of the scam: The SPF said on June 8 that at least 50 police reports have been filed and over $4 million have been lost to such scammers since this March.

The number of police reports, however, seems to belie the size of the net cast by such con artists. A spokesperson from DHL Express Singapore said its call centre receives 150 calls daily from customers in Singapore reporting the phone scam. At its peak in late-May, 200 calls were received every day. “We were alerted to the first few cases in early April,” said a DHL spokesman.


Here’s how the scam usually plays out:

It starts off with an automated voice, usually in Chinese. The call is then redirected to con artists who introduce themselves as representatives of banks in China, or of international courier companies like DHL, and even local companies like SingPost.

They then trick the victim into believing his or her identity was used to parcel illegal items like fake passports or credit cards, eventually leading the victim to believe that legal issues are imminent, given that his or her name is on the illegal package. In the process, the scammer is able to elicit personal details like the victim’s name, identification number, address, passport number and bank account numbers.

The final nail is hammered when the victim feels sufficiently pressured enough to remove impending “legal issues” by sending money to China.

The best defence according to the SPF is to ignore such calls.

Desist from giving out personal details and never transfer any money at the behest of the caller – even if they claim to be from the G, like some have in the past. After all, “no government agency will inform you to make a payment through a telephone call, especially to a third party’s bank account,” said the SPF. In addition, disengage from the call and speak to someone you trust before making any decision.

The spokesperson from DHL also clarified: “We do not make automated calls and will not be calling unsolicited to ask for personal information such as identification number, airway bill number, and banking or credit card details.”


Read more about other scams from the links below:

  1. Hello, I’m a phone scam. Is your bank account at home?
  2. How to run a sex-for-credit scam and end up in jail
  3. The greatest online scam of all time (No, it’s not sex)


Featured image by Sean Chong.

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