We’re not starting a cult but some followers on Instagram would be nice. Thank you.
Scam calls—you’ve probably received one at some point, and like most people, probably hung up and blocked the caller immediately.
Not Singaporean influencer and OnlyFans creator Tammy Tay (@ohsofickle) though, who took to Instagram on Mar. 11 to share her encounter with one such scammer.
Tracked her down on social media
She started off by explaining that she had received a call from a person claiming to be a moneylender that her domestic helper had borrowed S$3,500 from.
Tammy immediately called her helper, who clarified that she had indeed applied for a loan via a Facebook ad, prior to borrowing money from Tammy and her partner.
To apply for the “loan”, the helper had to submit personal information, such as her work permit number and employer’s details, and even paid a “processing fee”.
Based on the info, they were able to track Tammy down on social media, and even describe what her house looked like over the phone.
The scammer also asked that she pay up first, then deduct the money from her helper’s monthly salary, suggesting that based on what she did for a living, she should have enough money to do so.
Tammy asked for proof of the supposed loan, but they were unable to provide it.
Moved on to harassment
When they were unable to get her to budge, they moved on to sending threatening voice notes and calling the influencer’s business number.
Amusingly, at one point, the scammer also offered her a discount on the loan repayment—from S$3,500 to S$2,000.
They also proceeded to have food delivered to her company using the “cash on delivery” function, so that she would have to pay for food that she had not ordered.
This, she tells u her followers, is a tactic used to frustrate victims into caving and paying up.
“He’s trying to make me waste money, waste S$39… Like c’mon dude, thanks for your effort, thanks for like, getting dinner for me and giving Foodpanda (a food delivery service) business… Their technique is to keep on harassing you and make you so annoyed, so irritated that you’re just like, f**k lah, I’m just going to pay the S$2000 to shut him up. No way.”
Her followers also shared similar experiences:
She proceeded to make a police report, but said that “there is nothing much the police can do”.
“For me it’s more unfortunate because a lot of my personal details can be found online. It’s easier for him to threaten me and reach out to me… It’s also quite scary because let’s say he really really appears at my workplace or my house. I’m actually quite scared.”
Some followers also shared their experiences of their helpers actually borrowing money from moneylenders and getting harassed as a result.
Tammy shared that she would give her helper “the benefit of the doubt” as she was able to share a screenshot of the aforementioned processing fee for the supposed loan.
Adding to that, the scammer was inconsistent in answering her questions about how the money was passed on to her helper— whether it was in person or via fund transfer.
However, the influencer acknowledged that there could be a possibility that the money that she had lent her helper may have been for the purpose of repaying the moneylender, although she felt that her helper seemed “innocent” while the other party seemed “suspicious”.
But that’s not the end of the saga.
Tammy decided to continue entertaining the scammer, and said that they used as many as 10 different numbers in a day to contact her.
She decided to have a “looong chat” with the scammer, despite them being “harsh and fierce [and] rude”, when a strange development happened.
The person on the other end suddenly “broke character” and started sending what seemed like heartfelt messages.
These messages were later deleted, but Tammy had already taken screenshots:
A few of Tammy’s followers then suggested that the scammer might be working under duress as part of a scam syndicate.
One shared a video of a Taiwanese news programme reporting on such syndicates in Myanmar, a country that Tammy’s scammer had also mentioned in their messages to her:
More followers shared information on these scam syndicates, which led to Tammy saying that she now felt “sad” for them.
She even hoped that she would get another message from the scammer, so that she could “give him words of comfort”.
She concluded her story by sharing a link to GASO, an organisation dedicated to fighting cybercrime and human trafficking.
On Mar. 15, Tammy updated that the calls and messages had stopped, and suggested that it might have because the scammer had “exposed himself”.
“Feels really weird, I’m really hoping nothing happened to the scammer,” she quipped.
Who is Tammy Tay?
Those who grew up in the blogger era of the 2000s may remember Tammy, better known as Ohsofickle, from her blog and fashion label.
She retired from blogging in 2015 and her label is no longer active, but she’s continued to remain a prominent influencer on Instagram with 143k followers.
She now runs several beauty salons where she also sells skincare out of Joo Chiat.
More recently, she’s made the news for selling NFTs and joining creator platform OnlyFans to pay off her business debts.
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Are employers supposed to help pay off their helper’s debts?
Domestic helpers in Singapore can borrow money from moneylenders, but only if the latter is licensed.
Under the Moneylenders Act, moneylenders must be licensed and are required to obtain the residential addresses of borrowers.
They are allowed to send letters of demand to these addresses to recover unpaid debt, and they do not have any legal right to recover debt from any party other than the borrower or guarantor of a loan.
So, unless the employer acted as a guarantor for their helper, they are not expected to help repay the loan.
Recent notable scam cases
Scam and cybercrime cases have been on the rise in Singapore, with victims losing a total of S$660.7 million in 2022.
One retiree, 71, recently lost S$80,000 to a scammer pretending to be Taiwanese singer Fei Yu Ching.
Others have lost money to various increasingly innovative scams.
However, there have also been some amusing incidents where would-be victims have turned the tables on their scammers.
Like actress Nurul Aini, who decided to show off her singing chops by belting out Taiwanese singer A-mei’s “原来你什么都不想要” (“Turns out you don’t want anything”) to a fake Ministry of Health officer.
Or this guy, who really likes stock, but only of the soup variety.
All images via ohsofickle/Instagram.
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