Young scam victims in Singapore are seeking counseling and help for mental health issues to get through the pain of losing huge sums of money in various scams. In 2022 alone, victims were cheated of $660.7 million in job scams and cyber-fraud. Job con, e-commerce hoax, investment fraud and phishing attacks make up more than 80 percent of the top 10 scam types in Singapore.
John Shepherd Lim, Singapore Counseling Center (SCC) officer, says victims believe they have no control over their life and future after having their money and pride taken away from them against their will. He explained that young victims face shame, which leads to low self-esteem and isolating behaviors, and helplessness. Lim said they also fear being blamed for being gullible, and this actually worsens their feelings of guilt or shame.
Silver Ribbon (Singapore), a mental health advocacy organization, has observed a 20 percent increase in youth being scammed due to online gaming and online purchases. It said the victims lose trust in humans, become paranoid and tend to keep to themselves. Kristine Lam, a senior manager of Care Corner Youth Services, said victims may also normalize scammers’ behavior. “They might think that such behavior is common or even acceptable because to them, it seems like everyone is taking advantage of the trust of others.”
She believes facing these experiences for the first time may come as a shock. “They may not know who to turn to, or what to do about the situation. Some may also feel a sense of shame at being cheated and not seek help.”
One of the victims revealed that she fell to a job scam in 2021. She responded to a job advertisement on a website that promised a 10 percent commission for completing online tasks. The job had her take a screenshot of a household item in her shopping cart on an e-commerce platform. As such, she ended up losing $20,000.
Another victim shared he fell to an app on social media that offered cash for every video liked on a streaming platform. He earned $200 but it prompted him to deposit $1,000 by linking his bank account to the app to double his money.
Lim said the scam victims are vulnerable and sensitive as they lack the experience to deal with complex issues. They need understanding and patience, as such, people should not be judgmental.