25-year-old man loses over $21,000 after helping 'pretty Instagram GF' with tasks

A man thought he was helping his online girlfriend with her work, only to later discover that he had been taken for a ride.

By the time he realised that he had been scammed, he had lost more than $21,000.

Mr Huang, a 25-year-old admin worker, told Shin Min Daily News that he received a Direct Message from a 'pretty' Instagam user last month. She claimed that they had many mutual friends and was thus interested in getting to know him.

He recounted: "I didn't think much of it and started chatting with her. She said she was from Malaysia and was working as a fashion designer in Singapore.

"A few days later, she asked for my help in completing tasks by visiting a website to take screenshots and transfer money, so as to create the illusion of high sales."

Mr Huang said the woman promised to transfer back the money, along with a 5% commission, as long as he went to the website to take screenshots of their products and make PayNow transactions to an account provided.

When Mr Huang first transferred $98, he received a full refund and the commission. This led him into thinking that it was all legitimate. He was subsequently asked to pump in more money to earn higher commissions.

He said: "The second time, I transferred $539. However, I was told that according to the agreement, I had to pay for seven orders and needed to transfer $3,773 to complete the transaction. But after doing so, they requested that I spend the same amount on repurchases."

Mr Huang was also told that product sales had been affected as he took more than 10 minutes to complete the transaction, causing the website's reputation to fall from 100% to 80%.

In order to restore the reputation, which would then allow Mr Huang to get his refund, a payment of over $2,000 was required.

Although Mr Huang had started to get suspicious, he continued to do as instructed in hopes of getting back his money.

He forked out $21,128 from around 9pm on July 15 to about 3pm the following day.

Mr Huang realised that he had been scammed when he asked for his money back, only to be told that he needed to pay tax.

"They said that the amount to be refunded was too big, so I had to bear 50% of taxes with the company and pay personal income tax of $5,959," added Mr Huang, who eventually lodged a police report and severed contact with the other party.

In response to media queries, the police confirmed that a report was lodged and investigations are ongoing.

Mr Huang lamented: "I just entered the corporate world so all the money was from credit cards. I will now need around two years to pay off the debt."