500 maids in Singapore duped in 2023 are from India, Sri Lanka

The woman looks like a maid looking out of the window

(Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash)

The number of scams in Singapore hit a record high in 2023, Home Minister K Shanmugam said, adding that the country saw a rise of 18 percent in duping cases against migrants, many of whom are from India and Sri Lanka.

A total of 46,563 cases of scams were reported in Singapore, with people losing SGD 651.8 million to scams in 2023, the police earlier told The Straits Times, saying this is the highest number of scam cases since they began tracking them in 2016.

Falling prey to the scams are about 500 foreign maids from South Asian countries, mostly from India, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar, migrate to the country in search of better employment opportunities, higher wages and a stable political and economic environment.

How are they duped?

In 2020, a maid from Myanmar was reached out via messaging application Viber where a man who claimed to be a bank staff member asked her details to “update” her ATM card. Before she realised, around SGD2,600 were withdrawn from her account, leaving her with just SGD45. Fortunately, she managed to recover SGD1,700 from the bank, as per a report by the Singaporean newspaper.

How is government preventing the scam spike?

When Shanmugam was asked whether the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) tracks the number of such workers and what measures the authorities are taking to prevent financial crimes, he assured that they are doing their bit by creating awareness and training the workers against the scams.

The foreign maids majorly fell for phishing, Internet love, and loan scams in 2021, the police had said in February.

The home minister said as part of the Ministry of Manpower’s mandatory settling-in programme, workers are asked to adopt measures to protect themselves from scams adding that the authorities carry out anti-scam education efforts regularly 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 Shanmugam in his reply.

As per the annual scams statistics for 2023, people in Singapore have lost more than $2.3 billion to scams since 2019. With many losing a large chunk of their income and lifetime savings.

Not only to protect themselves against financial scams, the police also run the Domestic Guardians Programme, which trains migrant domestic workers on how to prevent common crimes such as housebreaking, trespassing, and abuse.

(Source: Firstpost)