If you, like me, have been part of a job hunt, you would probably have heard all kinds of advice: don’t accept jobs that don’t offer contracts! Check if it’s a legit company you’re applying for! Don’t give them your credit card details if they ask for it!
Here’s another piece of advice: if the job offer is basically just getting paid for helping a random, unknown stranger to transfer money, it’s probably involved in some shady business.
As the Chinese saying goes: “天下没有白吃的午餐”, or “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”.
So if the job offer is too good to be true, chances are it’s something illegal.
One man hopefully learned his lesson after falling for such a trap.
29YO Man Jailed for Helping to Transfer Stolen Funds
Marzuki Zakaria, a 29-year-old Malaysian, was sentenced to 4 weeks’ jail yesterday (3 May).
Helping an unknown person he met on Gumtree transfer stolen funds. Essentially, he was providing payment services without a license, which, under the Payment Services Act 2019, is illegal in Singapore.
The man had responded to a Gumtree advertisement for a part-time job, which promised him $2,000 a month, along with a daily commission.
According to CNA, investigations conducted by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) has revealed that during the period between 18 February 2020 to 21 February 2021, he had received 16 fund transfers to his bank account, which totalled $4,397.
Of these funds, $1,754 were funds stolen through online scams.
On the instructions of the unknown person on Gumtree, he then transferred the funds to local bank accounts using PayNow.
During this period of his “part-time job”, Marzuki earned a total of $137.
So much for “$2,000 a month” huh?
For his offence, he could have been sentenced to up to 3 years’ jail, or fined up to $125,000.
Similar Incidents in the Past
With the Payment Services Act having only been rolled out just two years ago in 2019, there have been a few cases like Marzuki’s.
Introduced on 28 January 2019, the Payment Services Act is meant to fight money laundering and terrorism financing, as well as increase consumer protection when using e-payments. So far, the police has made good use of this new law to tackle cases like Marzuki’s.
The first case of providing payment services without a license was reported on 24 June 2020 in a press release by the Singapore Police Force (SPF). Between 27 February to 28 February 2020, 23-year-old Lange Vivian had allegedly received at least 13 fund transfers totalling $3,350 in her bank account. These funds were proceeds from scamming people online.
Lange had also come across a “part-time job” online, which offered her a 10% commission for every transaction. Her role was to deposit the money she had received in her bank account into Bitcoin machines.
She was sentenced to four weeks’ jail.
In another case just a few months prior on 19 January 2021, a 38-year-old woman was also charged under the Payment Services Act for providing domestic money transfer services without a license.
Like all others, Maslenie Mohamed Ramli had supposedly taken up a job offer online to perform the bank transfers as an “accountant personnel” in exchange for a daily commission. She had received a total of 13 transactions amounting to $4,855 in her POSB account in May 2019 before transferring them to other local accounts.
And surprise, surprise, those funds were once again proceeds of crime from victims of online scams.
Police Advise Caution Against This Common Ruse By Scammers
In all occasions, the police have reminded the general public that such “job offers” are a ruse commonly used by scammers to have others “carry out illicit payment transfers on their behalf.”
Job seekers are advised to exercise caution against job advertisements that offer too-good-to-be-true salaries for little to no job responsibilities.
“Legitimate companies will not require you to utilise your personal bank account to receive money on their behalf,” says the police.
Moral of the story: reject shady requests from others to use your bank account.
Feature Image: milicad / Shutterstock.com