Migrant workers lost $24.9m to scams in 2021, up from $4.5m in 2019

In 2021, there were 3,181 migrant workers who were victims of scams, up from 1,965 in 2020, said the police. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A total of $24.9 million was lost by migrant workers to scams in 2021, more than five times the $4.5 million that was lost in 2019.

Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in a written parliamentary reply on Thursday that the top two scam types among migrant workers are phishing and job scams.

He was responding to Ms Rachel Ong (West Coast GRC), who asked how much migrant workers had lost to scams in each of the past three years. The amount lost in 2020 was $10.4 million.

Mr Tharman said: “The Government is taking action on multiple fronts to disrupt scammers’ operations, strengthen enforcement against perpetrators and increase public education.

“It has been stepping up public education and engagement efforts to raise awareness of scams among the migrant worker community.”

He added that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) regularly provides anti-scam advisories and resources to migrant workers in their native languages.

Migrant workers are also taught how to avoid falling prey to scams, and not to share their personal information or bank account credentials with anyone.

The Singapore Police Force also works closely with MOM and non-governmental organisations to disseminate the latest scam modus operandi within the relevant anti-scam advisories, and to conduct outreach events, the minister added.

Ms Ong had also asked if the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) framework for equitable sharing of losses arising from scams includes migrant workers, and whether special consideration will be given to them in the compensation of losses, given their vulnerability to scammers claiming to be from government authorities.

Mr Tharman said MAS is working with other government agencies to design a framework for shared responsibility between relevant parties when a scam occurs, and one that incentivises each party to be vigilant against scams.

The Straits Times had reported on Sunday that more foreigners had fallen victim to scams in Singapore, with the amount of money lost more than doubling from $40.4 million in 2020 to $88 million in 2021.

In 2021, there were 3,181 migrant workers who were victims of scams, up from 1,965 in 2020, said the police.

A total of 357 domestic workers fell prey to scams in 2021, an increase from 216 in 2020.

There was an overall spike in scam cases in Singapore, with victims losing at least $633.3 million in 2021, compared with $268.4 million in the previous year. Police said the top three scams that affected foreigners in 2021 were phishing scams, job scams and e-commerce scams.

As at December 2021, there were 246,300 migrant domestic workers in Singapore and 318,400 work permit holders in the construction, marine and process sectors, according to MOM.

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