Over the past year, more migrant workers and maids have fallen prey to scammers. Police say that in 2020, there were 1,965 migrant workers and 216 domestic workers who were scammed.

One common scam, which helpers usually found via scrolling through their mobile phones, offers loans with low charges to maids, who have been vulnerable to the lure of quick cash when they’re in need.

This was especially true for some during the pandemic when the family members of some domestic workers lost their jobs and looked to the helpers for money.

The helpers resorted to taking out loans from scammers. Some of those loans asked for a deposit before releasing the amount intended for borrowing, and then the alleged moneylenders would disappear.

Phishing scams have also found their victims among maids, who have fallen prey like many others not just in Singapore, but in many parts of the world.

For migrant workers, the top three scams they were victimized by in 2021 are phishing, job and e-commerce scams, while for domestic helpers, phishing, internet love and loan scams have been the top three, the police told The Straits Times (ST).

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One of the lead volunteers, Ms Ruchi Trivedi at ItsRainingRaincoats, a non-profit organisation said, migrant workers should not share their personal information, such as bank details and passwords, with anyone. They should not click on web links that they do not recognise and always ask an authority or their supervisors if they are unsure, ST reported.

“It’s definitely worrying, since scams can jeopardise their rice bowls while they are working in Singapore and could affect employers as well. In some cases, scammers harass the employer for money, even visiting their homes.

My advice is for maids to ask their employer or employment agency for help if they encounter a scam. But in some cases, maids know it’s a scam, but they are desperate for cash,” ST quoted the manager of United Channel maid agency, Ms Flora Sha, as saying.

Together with MOM and other groups, the police have been sharing the latest crime trends and anti-scam advisories with domestic and migrant workers.

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Last year, the number of scams went up to 3,181 and 357 respectively, The Straits Times reported on May 4, an increase of over 60 per cent for both groups. Data from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) says that Singapore has 246,300 migrant domestic workers and 318,400 work permit holders in the construction, marine and process sectors, as of December 2021.

ST quoted the general manager of migrant workers’ rights group Transient Workers Count Too as saying, “One needs to only go on Facebook to look at the many job ads that target migrant workers. They look very similar to posts by registered employment agents and therefore, to an untrained eye, impossible to tell one apart from another.” /TISG

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