SINGAPORE, Oct 27 — Acting on shared intelligence, police forces in Singapore and Malaysia cracked down on two transnational job scam syndicates after 17 men and seven women were arrested simultaneously in a joint operation last week.
They are believed to be behind some job scams reported in Singapore involving more than 390 victims and S$5 million (Rm15.4 million), the Singapore Police Force said in a statement on Tuesday (Oct 26).
Last Friday, officers from Malaysia’s Commercial Crime Investigation Department conducted raids in Johor and Kuala Lumpur, nabbing five men aged between 23 and 32, and five women aged between 21 and 28.
At the same time, Singapore’s Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) officers arrested 12 men and two women, aged between 17 and 44, for their suspected involvement in the scams.
Preliminary investigations from Malaysia and Singapore revealed that the syndicate had targeted victims from both countries and had laundered their criminal proceeds in Malaysia.
The suspects who were arrested in Singapore had allegedly facilitated the offences by carrying out bank transfers and funds withdrawals or relinquishing their bank accounts to the scam syndicates for monetary gain.
CAD’s director David Chew said: “Job scams continue to be a serious crime concern that targets jobseekers who can ill-afford such losses.
“This transnational crime syndicate operating in two locations in Kuala Lumpur and Johor, Malaysia thought that they could defraud their victims with impunity. They were wrong.”
How victims are tricked
There has been an increase in reports from Singapore victims of job scams since May, the Singapore Police Force added. Most victims were jobseekers.
Describing the modus operandi used by these scammers, the police said that the scams start off as advertisements posted by the syndicates on social media channels or chat applications that purportedly offer quick cash for certain jobs.
They would ask victims to complete certain tasks such as “liking” TikTok or YouTube videos, as well as placing orders, in order to improve the sales of certain goods from online sites.
After completing these tasks, victims would be told that they could earn higher commissions.
They were instructed to pay for the goods by transferring money to different bank accounts and they would be reimbursed later, along with between 5 and 15 per cent of the amount in commissions.
The police said that the scammers would initially reimburse the victims and pay commissions to convince them that this was a legitimate job.
Victims would be induced to pay larger sums of money to earn greater commissions, so long as they complete tasks of higher monetary value.
Eventually, the reimbursements and the commissions would be allegedly delayed or withheld.
The victims would only realise then that they had been duped.
How to avoid being conned
Urging jobseekers to be cautious of job advertisements that promise the convenience of working from home or a high salary for relatively simple job responsibilities, the police said that legitimate businesses will not ask people to use their own bank accounts to receive money on their behalf, or to make upfront payments to secure the job offers and earn commissions.
E-commerce sites will also never ask people to transfer money to third-party accounts and promise to reimburse these transfers with a commission, the police added.
If anyone is randomly invited to a messaging application chat group that is suspected to be promoting a scam, the person should report the chat group using the in-app function immediately to prevent others from falling prey to scams.
Members of the public are also warned not to use their bank account to conduct transactions on behalf of others. Users who do so may have unwittingly committed an offence by assisting to launder money from criminal activities.
To jobseekers, the police cautioned: “If it is too good to be true, it probably is. Do not accept dubious job offers that offer lucrative returns for minimal effort.” — TODAY