Credit-for-sex scam victims lost S$304,000 since start of 2017

Singapore, January 1, 2017 – Channel News Asia

SINGAPORE: The number of credit-for-sex scams is on the rise, with at least 53 such cases reported between Mar 1 and Mar 16, the police said.

Victims of these scams have lost at least S$304,000 since the start of the year, the police added in their press release on Wednesday (Mar 22).

Scammers usually befriended male victims through social media platforms such as WeChat, Locanto and OkCupid, and then communicated with them through online messages and phone calls.

Once they established rapport, the scammers arranged for a face-to-face meeting with the victims. After the victims turned up, they either called the scammers or received a call from an unknown number. The callers claimed to be the women’s bosses or agents and convinced the victims to purchase gift cards or online shopping credits from Alipay and iTunes in exchange for a meet-up, date or sexual favours.

Sometimes, other members of the syndicates also contacted the victims and asked for further purchases. Some victims were threatened if they refused to comply.

Police added that while the majority of the credit-for-sex scammers adopted largely Chinese-sounding names to target Chinese-speaking victims, there have been recent cases where scammers have used English names.

MODUS OPERANDI

One victim, John (not his real name), told the police about how he befriended a woman through Wechat.

They arranged to meet but the woman did not show up. A man, who claimed he was the woman’s “boss”, then contacted John and asked him to transfer S$800 worth of Alipay online credits. He told John that the money was “protection fees” to ensure the woman’s safety and that it would be refunded to him later.

Subsequently, the man contacted John again, this time demanding S$1,000 as medical fees. After the first two transfers, he contacted John and demanded a sum of more than S$20,000 be transferred before the woman would be returned safely.

When John said he was unable to pay, the man threatened to kill John’s family members.