Money mule lured into online scam
While looking for part-time work to earn extra pocket money two years ago, a student came across a job offer on classifieds website Gumtree.
Its promise of a high commission lured him into unwittingly becoming a money mule for online scammers.
Now 20 and a full-time national serviceman, he described yesterday in a conference call organised by the police how he got an e-mail after applying for the job.
John (not his real name) said: "(The person) told me he would send some money to my bank account and an item to my home. I just needed to send these things to his client via (remittance company) Western Union."
He added that he knew nothing about the person but gave his banking details anyway.
About $600 was banked into his account two days later.
When he tried to access his account the next day, it had been frozen. The bank told him it had been suspended because illegal funds was transferred into it. He was advised to make a police report.
John could no longer contact the other person and he was shocked when the police said he was part of an online scam that cheated a seller on online marketplace, Shopee.
In September 2016, a buyer claiming to be in the US had contacted the victim to buy some items from her and wanted her to mail them to someone in Malaysia.
He claimed that he paid about $60 to her through his bank account and this was when the victim started to receive e-mails purportedly from his bank.
The scammer started by asking for proof of shipping in order to release the $60 payment. After she mailed the items, he asked for more and more money under the guise of refundable fees that were needed to facilitate the payment.
Each time, the victim was promised her money would be returned and that it would be last step in the process.
She made two transfers to a POSB and a DBS account respectively, losing close to $1,900 in total.
John said he was lucky to have got away with a police warning for his role in the scam.
E-commerce scams have gone up by 58 per cent in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.
The police warned that anyone who allow their bank accounts to receive or transfer money linked to criminal activities could be prosecuted for money laundering.
John's lesson? "Jobs that offer easy money could get you in trouble," he said.