SINGAPORE: Yet another Singaporean has spoken to the media about being scammed out of a large amount of money.
A woman lost over $320,000 in just a month due to an investment scam, she told AsiaOne. The woman, who asked to be referred to as “Adeline” in her story, said she had been victimized by a scammer in October after a man who introduced himself as a businessman to her on Instagram.
The modus operandi of many investment scams is that scammers pretend to allow their victims to make small profits on their initial investments, which assures the would-be victims of the schemes’ legitimacy. They also reel them in with the promise of a quick and often sizable return on “investment”.
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After getting to know each other over small talk on social media, he requested that they continue talking via WhatsApp. When two weeks passed, the man talked to Ms Adeline about a business opportunity of investing in the trading of gold commodities through a “seed” platform that was supposedly under a well-known investment firm.
The man was able to lure Ms Adeline when he gave her the first funds she could use to “invest” in the amount of US$2,000 (S$2,721). After she made a profit on this initial amount, he asked her to invest US$10,000. While she said no at first, he was able to convince her when he said he would put up the larger amount of the investment, and to make a long story short, the “investment grew to $190,000,” Ms Adeline told AsiaOne.
However, when she tried to get her money back, the scammers told her she needed to pay US$48,000 in taxes, which would later be refunded. To do this, Ms Adeline took out a loan. Later, she endeavoured to take her money back using cryptocurrency but was told by the scammer that she needed a verified account, which cost US$70,000 to get, although this money would later be refunded.
Ms Adeline took out another loan in this amount. She would later borrow even more money from the bank, US$120,000, for different fees.
This is another part of scammers’ MO—they ask their victims for more and more money for the original “investment” to be returned to them. As victims grow increasingly desperate to get their money back and are lured by the promise that their money will be returned at the next step, they often do what scammers ask.
After being asked for another US$140,000, she finally realized she was being deceived, and Ms Adeline told her husband what was happening. They have since contacted their banks and the police for assistance. However, unlike other victims, Ms Adeline remains in contact with her scammer, who still asks for additional money.
She has blamed herself for being “stupid” and “muddleheaded” throughout the whole ordeal, which has caused her trust in people to plummet. While she is thankful for the support from her husband, family, and friends at this time, she is aware that recovering from the scam will not be an easy road.
A recent report showed that US$1.02 trillion (S$1.4 trillion) is lost annually around the globe through scams, with one out of every four persons getting victimized. This is equivalent to 1.05 per cent of the global GDP.
On average, victims in Singapore have lost the most money. The most common types of scams are shopping scams (27 per cent), followed by identity theft and investment fraud. /TISG
Read related: Singaporeans Hit Hardest by Global Scams, Losing Over US$4,000 Per Victim