Single mum who lost $89k to a job scam thought she could earn $18k in a week

Thinking she could get around $107,700 in return – a profit of almost $18,000 in a week – Ms Lee asked to withdraw her money and commission.

She was shocked to hear she had to pay a fee of around $6,000 to withdraw the money.

Ms Lee said: “I told the staff member I had no more money, and I needed to feed two children. But they insisted the bank needed this ‘authentication fee’ as I was trying to withdraw a large amount of money.”

She complained to Ivy, who claimed to be a fellow victim and said her husband had lodged a police report. But Ivy was probably in on the ruse, Ms Lee added.

“The staff member said their bank accounts were frozen as someone had made a police report, and asked for $8,000 to ‘unfreeze’ the accounts before I could get my money,” she recounted.

“I realised Ivy may have been from the same syndicate.”

Ms Lee asked debt collector Fast Debt Recovery to help claw back her funds.

Its co-founder Lyn Ling told ST that their investigations revealed the bank accounts that Ms Lee had transferred money to belonged to various individuals. The accounts were also tagged to phone numbers no longer in service.

She said these were hallmarks of a scam. The debt collector told Ms Lee her chances of getting the money back were slim, and encouraged her to make a police report.

The police told ST that investigations are ongoing.

In September, the police warned of a job scam where scammers enticed victims by giving them commissions for completing simple surveys, before offering victims fake job opportunities.

Singsale was mentioned in screenshots of a conversation between a scammer and a victim.

Victims were told to transfer money to bank accounts provided by the scammers, like what Ms Lee did.

The police said victims would only realise they had been scammed when they could not withdraw their commission, or when the scammers cut contact.

According to Singsale’s website, the company was launched here in 2014. It did not respond to ST’s queries by press time.

Ms Lee said she was ashamed and had not told friends or family about her ordeal.

“I don’t want to tell my parents, as this is a result of my personal doing. I don’t want them to get worried,” she said, adding that her father provides her with around $300 a month.

“When I find a job, I won’t find it through online methods or Facebook again.”

Job scams were the most common scam type in the first half of 2023.

Most scam victims were young adults aged 20 to 39, and the scam they most commonly fell for was job scams, according to the police’s mid-year scam statistics.

In September, the police said at least 6,600 victims had fallen prey to job scams since January, with losses totalling at least $96.8 million.

Mr Scott Stiles, the head of fair hiring at Seek Asia, which operates employment platforms JobStreet and JobsDB, said scammers are becoming more sophisticated. So, jobseekers should be alert when seeing a legitimate-looking company website, and evaluate every aspect of the job offer.

Fake jobs often offer terms that seem too good to be true, such as high salaries that do not match the job. Other red flags include vague job roles, and recruitment messages that do not address the recipient by name.

And no legitimate company would ask employees for payment to start work, added Mr Stiles.