27 probed in S'pore over suspected involvement in job scam run by Hong Kong syndicate

Victims were tricked into buying goods on the promise of refunds with something extra that would eventually not be given.
Victims were tricked into buying goods on the promise of refunds with something extra that would eventually not be given.PHOTOS: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

SINGAPORE - A total of 27 people in Singapore have been investigated or arrested here over their suspected involvement in a job scam run by a Hong Kong-based syndicate.

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) said in a statement on Tuesday (June 29) that they worked with their Hong Kong counterparts to stop the syndicate, which had been offering "jobs" which promised quick cash for helping improve the sales on e-commerce platforms to people, including those in Singapore.

Victims were tricked into buying goods on the promise of refunds with something extra that eventually was not given.

The 27 people who were probed in Singapore comprised 23 men and four women aged between 16 and 53.

Preliminary investigations showed that they had allegedly facilitated bank transfers, withdrew funds, or relinquished their bank accounts to the syndicate.

Fourteen core members of the Hong Kong-based syndicate, comprising 12 men and two women aged between 22 and 53, were arrested by the Hong Kong Police Force between June 16 and 18 for their suspected involvement in 134 cases of job scams in Hong Kong involving HK$9 million (S$1.56 million).

Mr David Chew, director of the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), said: "The Singapore Police Force will continue to collaborate closely with our counterparts to prevent, detect and deter these transnational syndicates which exploit the anonymity of the Internet to commit crimes."

The scammers would post job advertisements on social media which claimed that the work involved helping improve sales on online platforms, including Taobao and HKTV Mall, by transferring funds to different bank accounts.

Victims were promised reimbursements of the full sum with a 5 per cent to 12 per cent commission.

While the scammers would purportedly reimburse the victims with commissions at first, they would later promise commissions only after a certain number of tasks had been completed and would delay payments.

The victims would realise they had fallen prey to a scam when they did not receive subsequent reimbursements and commissions, said the police.

Since May 20, CAD's Anti-Scam Centre has contacted more than 660 potential victims to advise them of this job scam. The centre has also terminated more than 270 phone numbers and frozen more than 80 bank accounts suspected to be linked to the scam.

The police said that e-commerce platforms would never ask users to transfer money with the promise of a refund and a commission.

Those who have been invited into group chats that they suspect could be promoting a scam can report the group chat using the messaging app's in-app function immediately, the police added.

They also urged the public to verify the authenticity of the job with official websites or sources and not to click on suspicious URLs or download applications from unknown sources.