SINGAPORE - Job scams are not a post-pandemic phenomenon but have certainly become more rampant since the economy took a hit from Covid-19, experts said.
There were 133 cases of job scams reported last year, with about $220,000 lost by victims. This was more than triple the 36 cases reported in 2019, where about $72,000 was scammed.
The higher unemployment rates last year could have seen more job seekers falling victim to scams, said Ms Jaya Dass, managing director of recruitment firm Randstad Singapore.
"Many job seekers, especially those who have been out of a job for a long period of time or are less educated, are more likely to fall victim to such scams," she said.
Ministry of Manpower statistics show that retrenchments increased from 10,690 in 2019 to 26,110 last year.
The unemployment rate among citizens increased from 3.3 per cent in 2019 to 4.2 per cent in last year. Among residents, the unemployment rate rose from 3.1 per cent in 2019 to 4.1 per cent last year.
Singapore Human Resources Institute president Low Peck Kem said people who have been out of jobs for a while "may be more vulnerable to the relatively lower entry barrier of promised jobs".
Workers who are unable to cope with their current work stress may find the offered jobs attractive, she added.
Ms Dass said job scammers have become "increasingly sophisticated" over the years, creating fake profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook to impersonate real people and companies, or purchasing online domains to create fake e-mail addresses to give the impression that they work for a legitimate company.
She advises job seekers to read job advertisements carefully.
Ms Dass said: "Scammers tend to have a poor command of the English language, so a fake job advertisement will always be laden with typos and grammatical errors."
Job seekers should contact the organisation or recruitment agency directly to check the legitimacy of the job, she advised.
If they are in contact with the interviewer, they should check that the e-mail address domain matches the organisation's company website.
"Alternatively, you can give them a call on the mobile phone. Most job scammers are uncomfortable speaking on the phone as they are afraid of being exposed," she said.
Ms Dass and Ms Low advise people to search for jobs on legitimate websites such as MyCareersFuture and companies' career pages.