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The Straits Times
Jan 29, 2023
If it were not for a job scam, Iris (not her real name) would have got married and maybe even be a mother by now.
Her life plans came to a halt after she was cheated of $17,000 meant for her wedding, which had been planned for the end of 2021.
It had taken the 35-year-old administrative worker three years to save the money, but it was stolen from her in just a day in September that year.
“The wedding won’t be happening any time soon as I don’t have enough money yet,” she said. “The $17,000 might not be a lot to some, but it took me a long time to save up for it as I don’t earn a lot.”
She had chanced upon an advertisement online for a part-time marketing gig and jumped on the opportunity to make some extra money for her big day.
She was hired as an affiliate marketing associate, purportedly for e-commerce platform Qoo10, and was told to use her own money to pay in advance for products on the platform to boost the sales figures of merchants.
The “hirer” told her she would be reimbursed with a small commission. This was true initially, with Iris quickly making $100 in profits within an hour that day.
She was then told to buy more expensive products, but her money was not returned.
The scammers gave excuses, including telling her she was too slow in completing the assignments, and told her to transfer bigger sums if she wanted her money back.
Desperate, she obeyed. But in a few hours, she had spent more than $17,000 “buying” desktops, watches, gym equipment, video games and jewellery.
In the days that followed, Iris was devastated and could not accept that her money was gone.
She said: “I was looking forward to starting a life with my fiance. We would like (to have) one or two kids. I’m not young any more and I’m afraid I might not be able to have children later on.”
She now struggles to stay motivated at work.
“I can’t shake off this moody feeling that follows me every day. I can’t focus or find joy in anything I do.”
The toughest part has been not telling her family members she had been scammed.
Said Iris: “I’m the eldest child in the family and I don’t want my siblings to look down on me. I’m ashamed of myself for being so foolish and trusting.”
The one bright spot is that her fiance has been understanding and he advised her to be more careful with what she sees online.
Police investigations are ongoing, and one of the bank accounts she used to transfer money to the scammers is still frozen.
Said Iris: “I am paying a heavy price for my greed and naivety. My plans for the future have been disrupted, and I’m trying to get myself back on track.”