SINGAPORE – The police have arrested 16 men and three women aged between 18 and 35 for their suspected involvement in Ponzi-like job scams with fake companies.
Officers from the Commercial Affairs Department and seven Singapore Police Force (SPF) Land Divisions conducted a two-day island-wide anti-scam enforcement operation on Oct 11 and 12 after police received several reports about Whatsapp messages, Facebook or Instagram posts and online advertisements promoting highly paid part-time jobs related to affliate marketing.
The scammers would offer fake online jobs that required victims to complete easy tasks like following social media accounts and liking posts to boost viewership.
In order to earn commission, victims were told to sign up for free membership accounts on websites and mobile applications provided by the scammers. After signing up, they would then be offered different membership packages ranging from $10 to a few thousand dollars, with varying amounts of commission paid per task.
The victims were told to pay the membership fees via cryptocurrency or bank transfers to unknown individuals before they could start performing the job to earn commissions.
In most cases, the victims would be convinced that it was a legitimate job as they would receive commissions and profit during the early stage of their memberships.
They only realised that they had been scammed when they did not receive further commissions or were unable to make withdrawals from their member accounts.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the fake companies are believed to be running Ponzi-like schemes where the new job seekers’ money are used to pay the promised commissions to existing job holders.
The 19 individuals arrested are believed to have participated in the scams by opening corporate and personal bank accounts, advertising and recruiting potential part-time job seekers, and fraudulently registering and supplying mobile phone lines.
Some of them also allegedly rented out or sold their bank accounts to the scammers.
Police investigations are ongoing.
The offence of cheating carries a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine, while the offence of receiving stolen property carries a jail term of up to 5 years, a fine, or both. Money laundering carries a jail term up to 10 years, a fine of up to $500,000, or both.
“The Police would like to caution job seekers to be wary of 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 utilise their own bank accounts to receive money on the businesses’ behalf or to make upfront payments to secure the job offers and earn commissions,” the police said in a statement on Wednesday (Oct 13).
The public is advised to be wary of foreign numbers when hiring for a local office, and to avoid making upfront payments to bank accounts belonging to unknown individuals.
For more information on scams, the public can visit Scamalert’s website or call the anti-scam hotline at 1800-722-6688.