Don't Become a Money Mule


Photo by Bulat Khamitov: https://www.pexels.com/photo/brown-mule-on-a-brown-sand-5649976/

One of the most frequently heard words in Singapore these days is "SCAM".


Scams are not new. In 2021, victims lost at least SGD633.3 million to scammers, 90 percent of which reside overseas, according to the Singapore Police Force. While its Anti-Scam Centre (ASC) has taken measures to warn the public and make arrests, the permutation of scams continue with false text messages from banks, automated callers impersonating government departments and fake emails of court hearings and documents.


Most scam victims suffer a financial loss. However there are scams that have serious criminal implications of money laundering, and facilitating unauthorised access to computer material for the unwary victim. The offence of money laundering under the Singapore government's Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act 1992 carries an imprisonment term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to SGD500,000. The offence of facilitating unauthorised access to computer material under Section 3 read with Section 12 of the Computer Misuse Act 1993 (CMA) carries an imprisonment term of up to two years, or fine, or both.


All it takes is the victim's Singpass. In the scammers' hands, they can register businesses and open bank or crypto-exchange accounts in the owner's name to receive monies from other scams, and subscribe to new mobile lines for communications. The victim has unknowingly become a money mule.


Receiving or transferring money for someone else is another way to become a money mule victim. Scammers will use a variety of ways to engage their victims including job offers that involve accepting and transferring funds on behalf of the company; offers of quick cash on social media; and emails regarding depositing monies into the victim's bank account


Being a money mule is a criminal offence. To safeguard yourself from becoming one, do not share our personal and financial information with anyone you're unfamiliar with or have not verified the identification of, and do not receive and transfer funds on someone else's behalf. Never disclose your Singpass ID, password or Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) details to others.


Contact your financial service provider and government bodies if you receive any suspicious SMSes, emails or phone calls asking you to click on the links or provide any sensitive personal details, login credentials and PINs. You can report any suspicious activities on your Singpass account to the Singpass helpdesk at 6335 3533 immediately. You may also reset your Singpass password at www.go.gov.sg/reset-sp-pw.


If you have information on scams in Singapore, call the Police hotline at 1800-255-0000 or submit information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. All information will be kept strictly confidential. Visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688 for more information on scams.


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