SINGAPORE: A 29-year-old man has been arrested for his suspected involvement in Ponzi-like job scams that involved the earning of commission by viewing movie trailers, the police said on Wednesday (Apr 6).
The police were informed on Mar 30 of an emerging job scam platform called “Moviitech”, where job seekers received unsolicited messages on Telegram, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or came across online advertisements promoting lucrative and easy money-making opportunities, said the police in a news release.
The job scam portal was purported to be an online platform where users would be paid to watch movie trailers, with job seekers able to increase their earnings by recruiting more people to participate on the platform.
Job seekers would be required to register a free account and purchase a membership plan, ranging from S$65 to S$450, before they would start earning commissions by watching movie trailers. The transactions would be performed in the form of bank transfers, police said.
Initially, the job seekers would be convinced that it was a legitimate job as they would receive commissions and profit during the early stages of their memberships. However, they would later realise they were scammed when they did not receive further commissions or were unable to make withdrawals from their member accounts.
During an island-wide operation from Apr 1 to Apr 5, the Commercial Affairs Department arrested the suspect and identified three other men, aged between 18 and 41, who are currently assisting investigations for their suspected involvement in the scams.
Preliminary investigations indicate that the bogus company was running Ponzi-like schemes using multi-level marketing strategies, police said. The four men are believed to have facilitated the schemes by advertising and recruiting potential job seekers as members, as well as providing bank accounts to facilitate the transfer of illicit funds. Further investigations are ongoing.
Those found guilty of by false representation of position not connected with contracts for goods and services under Section 424A of the Penal Code 1871 may be jailed for up to 20 years, fined, or both. The offence of aiding the commission of fraud carries a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine.
Police cautioned job seekers to be wary of online job advertisements that promise the convenience of working from home and being paid a high salary for relatively simple job responsibilities.
“Legitimate businesses will not require job seekers to make upfront payments to secure job offers and earn commissions. These acts are common ruses used by scammers to lure individuals into participating in their schemes or scams,” police said.
To avoid becoming involved in money laundering activities, members of the public should always reject requests to use their personal bank or cryptocurrency accounts to receive and transfer money for others, police added.
Members of the public are also advised to adopt the following precautionary measures:
- Be wary of the use of foreign numbers by persons claiming to be hiring for a Singapore office;
- Avoid making upfront payments to bank accounts belonging to unknown individuals;
- Always verify the authenticity of the calls or callers’ intent with official websites or sources. You may do so by contacting the companies that claim to be hiring; and
- Report and block the WhatsApp number via the in-platform reporting function.
Anyone with information on such scams may call the Police hotline at 1800-255-0000 or submit information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. All information will be kept strictly confidential.