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Singapore, HK jointly cripple transnational job scam crime ring; 27 S’poreans among 41 nabbed, under probe

SINGAPORE — A joint Singapore and Hong Kong police operation has crippled a transnational job scam involving 134 cases and HK$9 million (S$1.56 million). A total of 41 people accused of involvement have been arrested or investigated in the two cities including 27 Singaporeans.

Singapore, HK jointly cripple transnational job scam crime ring; 27 S’poreans among 41 nabbed, under probe

Cash, bank cards, phones and other items seized by the police in Singapore as part of a joint operation with Hong Kong police.

  • A crime ring based in Hong Kong is believed to be implicated in 134 job scams in the city
  • Fourteen “core members” were arrested there and 27 Singaporean suspects were nabbed or placed under investigation in Singapore
  • They are accused of keeping their victims’ money after promising commissions and a full refund in exchange for them buying items online

 

SINGAPORE — A joint Singapore and Hong Kong police operation has crippled a transnational job scam involving 134 cases and HK$9 million (S$1.56 million). A total of 41 people accused of involvement have been arrested or investigated in the two cities including 27 Singaporeans.

The crime ring, based in Hong Kong, is believed to be implicated in 134 job scams where culprits allegedly promised jobseekers quick cash in exchange for helping various sellers boost their online sales, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said in a statement on Tuesday (June 29).

Mr David Chew, director of Singapore’s Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), said: “The transnational crime syndicate had targeted unsuspecting victims in many jurisdictions, including Singapore.” 

Hong Kong police arrested 14 “core members” of the syndicate between June 16 and 18. They were 12 men and two women, aged between 22 and 53.

In Singapore, 23 men and four women — all Singaporeans aged between 16 and 53 — were arrested or placed under investigation. Dozens of Singapore bank cards, some cell phones and SIM cards were seized by the police.

Early investigations indicated that the suspects in Singapore had aided in bank transfers, fund withdrawals or handed over their bank accounts to the crime ring.

The extensive joint operation was executed by CAD, the Police Intelligence Department and seven land divisions of the police force in collaboration with Hong Kong Police Force’s Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau.

HOW THE SCAM WORKED

To lure their victims, the scammers posted advertisements on various social media platforms promising fast money.

The “job” involved the victims having to make purchases on e-commerce platforms, under the guise of improving the shop's online sales.

The victims were promised 5 to 12 per cent commission on top of a full refund for their purchases.

However, the scammers would provide the victims with a web link to fake websites that were clones of popular e-commerce sites such as Taobao or HKTV Mall.

When the victims bought items on these clone sites, the payment would be funnelled into the scammer's bank accounts.

At first, the scammers would make good on their word, fulfilling the reimbursement and commissions to gain their victims’ trust.

Then, as the victims began to make bigger purchases, the scammers would delay payments, promising payments only after a certain number of tasks had been completed.

Eventually, the scammers would stop reimbursing the victims’ payments and run off with the money, leaving the victims to realise that they have been duped.

HOW TO AVOID BEING SCAMMED

Since May 20, CAD’s Anti Scam Centre has identified and contacted more than 660 “potential victims” to advise them of “this job scam variant”.

The centre has also terminated more than 270 bank accounts and frozen more than 80 accounts suspected to be linked to such job scams.

The Singapore police advised the public to remember the following tips to avoid being a victim of similar scams:

  • E-commerce platforms will never ask you for money on the promise that they will refund you with a commission. If it is too good to be true, it probably is

  • If possible, always verify the authenticity of a job offer with official websites or sources

  • Do not click on suspicious URLs or webpages or download mobile applications from unknown sources

The police also urged members of the public who are unexpectedly invited into suspicious chat groups on messaging apps to report the chat group on the app, in order to prevent others from falling prey to scams.

The public may call the anti-scam hotline at 1800-722-6688 or visit www.scamalert.sg for advice.

Related topics

crime police Hong Kong scams online shopping jobseekers

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