SINGAPORE – A wave of social media job offer scams has left at least 180 individuals in Singapore collectively out of $2.6 million in the month of December 2023.
Victims were lured into the trap through fake job offers distributed via messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram, the police said in a statement on 8 January.
The scam unfolded as victims received unsolicited job offers and were subsequently added to chat groups, where scammers instructed them to engage in specific tasks on social media platforms.
These tasks included following influencers on TikTok or Instagram, subscribing to YouTube channels, or ‘liking’ songs on Spotify.
In 2023, Singapore police reported that job scams had duped at least 6,600 individuals, resulting in significant losses of around S$96.8 million (US$80 million).
Scammers’ deceptive tricks
The police said, scammers might also assert that they are affiliated with TikTok or online communications and marketing firms when presenting job offers to their targets.
Victims, initially receiving small commissions, were enticed to undertake additional activities, including creating accounts on fake websites and transferring substantial sums of money to provided bank or cryptocurrency accounts.
In some instances, the scammer even went as far as presenting victims with fake employment contracts, adding a layer of deceit to their elaborate scheme.
“Victims would only realise that they had been scammed when their website account showed a negative account balance, and they were told to pay additional funds in order to upgrade their accounts or when they failed to withdraw their earnings,” the statement said.
Authorities urge the public to exercise caution and protect themselves from such scams. Measures include using the ScamShield app, setting transaction limits for internet banking, and implementing two-factor authentication.
Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring a random code sent to a mobile device or token for online transactions.
To verify the legitimacy of job offers, users are advised to refer to official sources like the Anti-Scam Helpline or the Scam Alert website.
The police said: “Always verify the authenticity of job offers through official channels or sources, and do not accept dubious job offers that offer lucrative returns for minimal effort.
“Do not engage or believe claims made in any messaging app group chats that you are randomly added or invited into, and do not click on suspicious URL links or download apps from unknown sources.”
Citizens encountering suspicious messages can report them using tools provided by WhatsApp and Telegram applications.
Those with information on scams or doubts about message authenticity can contact the police hotline at 1800-255-0000 or visit www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.
Additional information can be found on www.scamalert.sg, or reach the Anti-Scam telephone hotline at 1800-772-6688.
According to a joint study by the Global Anti-Scam Alliance (Gasa) and ScamAdviser, scammers globally made off with a staggering estimated sum of US$1.02 trillion between August 2022 and August 2023.
Notably, victims in Singapore faced the highest average losses.
The study highlighted that the average scam victim in Singapore lost US$4,031, the highest globally, followed by Switzerland at US$3,767 and Austria at US$3,484, pointing to the appeal of these affluent nations as targets for scammers.
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