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Singapore, Malaysia police bust 2 transnational syndicates that ran scams targeting job seekers

Singapore, Malaysia police bust 2 transnational syndicates that ran scams targeting job seekers

Arrests made during the joint operation on transnational scam syndicates by Singapore and Malaysia police from Dec 6 to Dec 10, 2021. (Photos: SPF)

SINGAPORE: Two transnational syndicates that allegedly ran job and fixed deposit scams have been busted after a joint operation by police from Singapore and Malaysia, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said on Friday (Dec 10).

The syndicates are believed to have targeted more than 100 victims of job and fixed deposit scams reported in Singapore, which involved losses of more than S$1.5 million, said SPF.

Simultaneous raids were carried out in Singapore, Johor and Kuala Lumpur from Monday to Friday, resulting in the arrests of seven people in Singapore and eight people in Malaysia.

Preliminary investigations suggest that the syndicates targeted victims in both Singapore and Malaysia and laundered their criminal proceeds in Malaysia, said the police.

MODUS OPERANDI

SPF said it has seen new variants of job scams targeting victims in Singapore since October this year. 

These scams involve a syndicate posting job advertisements offering quick cash on different social media platforms, or befriending victims on messaging applications before introducing them to a purported job.

"The job would require victims, who were mostly job seekers, to assist in improving the sales of online platforms controlled by scammers by buying or selling products," said SPF. They could also be asked to complete tasks such as boosting the rating or visibility of the products.

Items seized during the joint operation on transnational scam syndicates by Singapore and Malaysia police from Dec 6 to Dec 10, 2021. (Photos: SPF)

Victims would be asked to sign up for accounts on the platforms controlled by the scammers, and to top-up these accounts to perform the tasks. In return, they would be promised commissions of between 0.6 per cent and 20 per cent, said SPF.

The scammers would give victims the details of bank accounts belonging to unknown individuals for payments to be made.

They would reimburse the victims and pay them the agreed commissions for the first transaction to convince the victims that it was a legitimate job, said police.

"However, the scammers would then induce victims to deposit larger sums of money to earn more commission. Victims would eventually discover that they had been scammed when they were unable to withdraw the money from the accounts," said SPF.

The other ruse involved a variant of a fixed deposit scam, where victims would receive SMSes with spoofed headers, purportedly from a bank, advertising fixed deposits with high interest rates.

They would be instructed to contact a number provided in the SMS to express their interest and obtain more details about the fixed deposits promotion, said the police. 

"Once contacted, the scammers would then attempt to get victims to divulge their personal details, such as their bank details or one-time passwords, or transfer money to unknown bank accounts."

Arrests made during the joint operation on transnational scam syndicates by Singapore and Malaysia police from Dec 6 to Dec 10, 2021. (Photos: SPF)

BUSTING THE SYNDICATES

The joint operation followed "extensive collaboration" and information-sharing between the SPF and Royal Malaysia Police (RMP), said police.

During the operation in Malaysia, SPF's Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and RMP's Commercial Crime Investigation Department raided several locations. They arrested seven men and one woman, aged between 22 and 24.

Simultaneously in Singapore, officers from CAD and seven police land divisions arrested six men and one woman, aged between 17 and 44.

Based on preliminary investigations, these seven individuals are believed to have facilitated the syndicates' crimes by carrying out bank transfers, fund withdrawals or relinquishing their bank accounts for monetary gains, said SPF.

"Transnational crime syndicates will target you if you are not careful and believe that their promises of high commissions for minimal work, or high interest rates for fixed deposits, are genuine," said CAD's deputy director of financial investigations Ian Wong.

SPF will continue to work closely with its Malaysian counterparts to detect and deter transnational syndicates "who use the anonymity of the Internet to commit crimes", said Mr Wong.

"We will also take firm action against the money mules in Singapore, who sell their bank accounts to these syndicates or actively help them to launder their proceeds of crime."

Police warned job seekers to be wary of job advertisements that promise a high salary for relatively simple job responsibilities.

"Legitimate businesses will not require job seekers to use their own bank accounts to receive money on behalf of the businesses, or to make upfront payments to secure the job offers and earn commissions," said SPF.

Source: CNA/dv(zl)
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