More migrant domestic workers fell prey to scams in 2023, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

More migrant domestic workers fell prey to scams in 2023

Five hundred migrant domestic workers fell victim to scams in 2023, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said.

This is an 18 per cent increase from the 423 migrant domestic workers who were duped in 2022.

Mr Shanmugam said this in a written parliamentary answer on April 2, to a question from Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (Chua Chu Kang GRC) on whether the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) tracks the number of such workers who have fallen prey to scams.

Mr Zhulkarnain asked what measures MHA has taken to raise the workers’ awareness of such scams during training, before they start work here.

In response, Mr Shanmugam said as part of the Ministry of Manpower’s mandatory settling-in programme, workers are taught measures that they can adopt to protect themselves from scams.

He added that agencies regularly carry out anti-scam education efforts for workers already working here.

“They are educated on the latest scam trends, so that they are equipped to detect scams and become advocates for scam prevention within their own community,” said Mr Shanmugam.

The police also run the Domestic Guardians Programme, which trains migrant domestic workers on how to prevent common crimes such as housebreaking, trespassing, and scams.

The Straits Times reported in 2022 that 357 domestic workers fell prey to scams in 2021, a rise from the 216 victims in 2020.

According to the annual scams statistics for 2023, the number of scam cases here hit a record high, with a total of 46,563 cases reported. Over $651 million was lost that year, and more than $2.3 billion has been lost to scams since 2019.

The top three types of scams which foreign maids fell for in 2021 were phishing, Internet love and loan scams, the police had said.

One such phishing scam case that saw a maid lose a large chunk of her savings was that of Amy’s (not her real name).

In 2020, the maid from Myanmar received a call through messaging application Viber and spoke to a man who claimed to be a bank staff member.

He said wanted to “update” her ATM card, and she gave him details of the card, including its personal identification number.

Before she knew it, around $2,600 was transferred out of her account. She was left with just $45, but subsequently managed to recover $1,700 from the bank.