In recent times, Telegram chat groups have come under the limelight for all the wrong reasons, with the latest being circulating obscene materials and promoting vice activities. However, it has now gotten notice once again, and this time again for other criminal activities.
A recent report by AsiaOne revealed that a police report was made against a middleman who allegedly retained over S$7,000 in unpaid salaries from over 80 students whom he gathered via Telegram job advertisement channels. This news was confirmed by the police on 17 September.
It appears that these students were on these Telegram channels seeking part-time gigs in events or other industries.
The man allegedly handled a Telegram job advertisement channel and had nearly 20,000 followers before it was deleted.
A report by Lianhe Wanbao highlighted a student’s encounter with the unscrupulous man. The Polytechnic Institute student vented her frustration on a social media site, in which she said that she applied for a temporary job to pack goods for an online store in order to support her family.
Unfortunately the student did not sign a work contract, but only got a verbal statement saying that she will paid via bank transfer within a week. After two months, she did not receive her salary and took to social media to voice about this scammer.
To her surprise, five to six students whom she never met before contacted her and noted that they did not get their salaries after working part-time at jobs that were introduced by the same middleman.
Another victim, a 23-year-old student who worked at a music festival in June 2019, told the Chinese newspaper that the man had refused to pay his salary of S$124 after the event. The student ended up filing a claim at the Small Claims Tribunals (SCT), and it ruled in the student’s favour after the man failed to attend the hearing.
A court order was issued for the man to pay the victim, but it was reported that the victim has not received the money to date.
“I did not sign [an employment] contract, but I have a signed time card. The person in charge agreed to pay my wages in the following month. But after the supposed payday, there was no news from the middleman,” the student told Lianhe Wanbao.
He added that nearly 80 other part-time workers are in the same situation and the total amount owed by the middleman is estimated to be S$7,000.
Companies have made payment to the middleman
It appears that when the victims got in touch with the companies they worked for, they were informed that the pay had already been given to the middleman.
However, when they asked the middleman, he told them that he had not received the payment from the companies involved, the Chinese daily reported.
The general manager of one of the companies, a local indoor playground, told AsiaOne that they did engage a man to manage over 20 of their part-timers around “August or September” last year. The company paid him a lump sum based on the workers’ timesheets, and he was supposed to then distribute the salary to the workers.
However, the company terminated his services sometime around November after it received complaints from the workers about their unpaid wages, she said.
She encouraged these workers to file a police report against the man and will support these workers in “whatever way [they] can”, she said.
She clarified that the man was a recruitment agent and not an employee of their company.
Middleman opened new Telegram account
It was reported in the Chinese newspaper that in order to not deal with students who are contacting him to get their unpaid wages, the middleman deleted the Telegram channel and changed other social media accounts too.
However, the newspaper said that netizens later spotted the same man on Telegram with a new account, and he opened a channel that is recruiting temporary workers.