S'pore single mum, 36, loses S$15,610 to scammer in 12 hours, left with S$17.06 in bank

She said she wants to warn others about the scam.

Belmont Lay | September 13, 2022, 03:24 AM

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A 36-year-old single mother in Singapore lost more than S$15,000 of her savings within 12 hours after falling for a job scam, and was left with only S$17.06 in her bank account.

The woman, surnamed Zhang, shared her ordeal with Shin Min Daily News, which published a report on it on Sep. 12.

The scam the victim experienced had occurred just two days earlier.

What happened

Zhang received a message from a Malaysian phone number out of the blue and was offered a part-time job that supposedly paid between S$50 and S$500 a day.

A photo that accompanied the text message showed the logo of online shopping platform Shopee.

The message sender claimed to be a recruiter for the platform.

Zhang replied that she was interested in the offer, and was referred to another recruiter at 9am on Saturday, Sep. 10.

She began working immediately.

Paid to click 'like' on products

All she had to do as instructed was to click "like" on certain products on Shopee and got paid S$2 to S$3 per response.

Zhang said: "After I did a few reviews, I was told I passed the 'trial period' and could enter the next stage."

Upgraded to be a buyer

She was then told she had been upgraded to be a "buyer" on the Amazon online shopping platform.

By purchasing an item on the platform, she was told she would be paid a 20 per cent commission, based on the item's value.

However, the modus operandi of the scammer was to get Zhang to first transfer the price of the goods to a designated bank account.

The recruiter would then send a link to her to place an order on the so-called Amazon site.

Zhang would click on the link provided and place an order on the webpage she was directed to.

Initially, Zhang did receive a few hundred dollars in commission as promised, on top of her principal sum, after completing the first few tasks.

Shin Min reported that it accessed the website that Zhang was directed to and found that it was not Amazon's official site.

Realised she was scammed

But the ruse continued as expected, and the victim was then asked to purchase more expensive products, but at some point, was informed that there was an error or delay in the procedure, and the order failed to go through.

In order to get back her initial capital, Zhang was told to place orders again and again, with the promise that she would recoup her money once the order got processed correctly.

She was also told each time she put down more money that it would be the last time she would have to do so.

Eventually, Zhang transferred S$15,610 in total to the scammer.

When the scammer continued to ask for more funds, by then, Zhang felt it was pointless and no longer believed the other party.

She called the police to report the matter when she realised she had been scammed.

Looked for opportunities online

Zhang said she lost her job during the pandemic and had to stay home to take care of her child who fell sick.

As a result, she could not secure a full-time job and ended up looking for ways to make money online.

She is currently receiving financial help from her sister, as she is unable to support her two children who are still in secondary school.

Zhang said she wants to warn the public about such scams prevent others from becoming victims.

Top photos via Shin Min Daily News