Singapore

Victims of job scams lose at least $6.5 million in first half of 2021

More people are falling for job scams, with victims losing at least $6.5 million in the first six months of this year. The biggest amount lost in a single case was $676,000, the police said on Monday.

There are two variants of job scams. One involves fake mobile applications, and the other relates to purported warning letters sent through WhatsApp.

In the first scenario, the police said, victims were told to download an app that would lead to jobs. However, before they could use the app, they must top up funds.

To do so, the victims have to transfer money to a specified bank account, or convert the amount into cryptocurrency and then transfer the sum into digital wallets specified by the scammers.

Victims were first promised a commission after a certain number of tasks have been completed. To make it more believable, the amount the victims transferred was reflected in their digital wallets.

The victims were also told that commission earned from jobs will be banked into the same digital wallets.

"However, the victims then realised that they (had) been scammed when they were unable to withdraw the money from these accounts," said the police.

WARNING LETTERS

In the WhatsApp scam, victims received fake warning letters telling them to pay a severance fee if they no longer wished to continue with jobs that the scammers had arranged for them.

The victims were warned that their accounts on the app would be frozen, preventing them from withdrawing their commission, and that legal action could be taken against them if they were to discontinue with the "job".

The police said the warning letters carried emblems of legitimacy to enhance their credibility, such as those that identify the Singapore Police Force and the Supreme Court.

"Victims would eventually realise they have been scammed when they do not receive their commission after completing the tasks given to them by the scammers," the police said.

The police did not provide details of the jobs or tasks but warned of red flags: Jobs that offer commissions that are too good to be true; unsolicited messages from dubious numbers; and requests to transfer money into specified bank accounts or cryptocurrency wallets.

For more information on current scams, check www.scamalert.sg or call the anti-scam hotline on 1800-722-6688.

COURT & CRIME