SINGAPORE: A transnational scam syndicate believed to be responsible for job scams involving more than S$1.3 million was dismantled in a joint operation by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Royal Malaysia Police (RMP).
In a press release on Saturday (Aug 28), SPF said Malaysian police raided an apartment in Johor on Thursday, after extensive joint collaboration and sharing of information between the police in both countries.
Three Malaysian men, aged between 21 and 27, were arrested during the operation.
The syndicate is believed to be responsible for more than 188 cases of job scams reported in Singapore involving S$1,350,700.
"Preliminary investigations revealed that the group targeted Singaporean and Malaysian victims and laundered their criminal proceeds in Malaysia," said SPF.
Officers from the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) also arrested six men and one woman, aged between 16 and 23, for their suspected involvement in these scams.
"Preliminary investigations revealed that they had allegedly facilitated the syndicate’s crimes by carrying out bank transfers, funds withdrawals, or relinquishing their bank accounts to the scam syndicates for monetary gains," the police added.
Officers from the SPF's CAD and Malaysia's Commercial Crime Investigation Department were involved in the operation.
SYNDICATE POSTED JOB ADVERTISEMENTS OFFERING QUICK CASH
Since May, SPF saw a surge in reports from local victims of job scams.
"In such cases, the syndicate would post job advertisements offering quick cash on different social media platforms or chat applications," said the police.
The job would require victims, who were mostly job seekers, to assist in improving the sales of online platforms by ordering goods.
The victims would later be instructed to pay for the goods by transferring funds to different bank accounts. In return, they were promised reimbursements of the sums they paid, as well as between 5 per cent and 12 per cent of the commissions.
The scammers allegedly would reimburse the victims first and pay them the agreed commissions in order to convince them that it was a legitimate job, said the police.
However, the scammers would then reportedly induce the victims to deposit increasing larger sums of money to earn more commission.
"At this point, the scammer would purportedly promise commissions only after a certain number of tasks had been completed," said the authorities.
Consequently, the payments were allegedly delayed or withheld. Victims would only then realise they had fallen prey to a scam when they did not receive the promised reimbursements and commissions.
The director of Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department David Chew thanked his Malaysian counterparts for their "strong support and commitment in tackling transnational crime syndicates that target our citizens".
Mr Chew said the syndicate had "targeted unsuspecting victims in Singapore and Malaysia by enticing them with empty promises of highly paid jobs that allowed them to work from home".
He also urged members of the public to take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones from falling prey to scammers "operating on social media offering jobs that seem too good to be true".
The police also advised people not to accept "dubious job offers that offer lucrative returns for minimal effort" and to verify the authenticity of the offers with the official e-commerce websites.
They also advised people to report group chats they are randomly invited to if they suspect the chat is promoting a scam.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.