SINGAPORE - Three men aged between 24 and 34 have been arrested for credit-for-sex scams costing victims a total of $88,000, the police said in a statement on Monday (July 10).
The men, believed to be Singaporeans, will be charged for intentionally assisting a foreign scam syndicate to transfer its benefits from criminal conduct.
The three men arrested were involved in several cases reported between April and June this year. They instructed victims to transfer cash to local bank accounts as deposits.
They then used the cash to buy Alipay credits and iTunes gift cards, which they subsequently transferred to the syndicate online.
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The trio laundered at least $88,000 in criminal proceeds.
Anyone convicted of money laundering offences in which they let criminal groups use their bank accounts for money laundering can be jailed up to 10 years and/or fined up to $500,000.
Credit-for-sex scams have cheated victims out of more than $762,000 in the first five months of 2017, with at least 269 reports made.
In these scams, men pose as attractive women and befriend male victims on social media platforms such as WeChat.
They then ask victims to buy online shopping credits or gift cards at AXS machines or convenience stores, promising to meet, go on a date or offer sexual services.
After that, the scammers would instruct the victims to send images of receipts showing codes of the credits or cards to designated e-mail accounts so syndicates, based in various countries, can claim them.
In some instances, other syndicate members will contact the victims to ask for more payments.
The victims end up making multiple payments without meeting the women they supposedly befriended.
The police gave the following advice to help members of the public avoid falling victim to such scams:
- Be wary of strangers who befriend you online and offer sexual services;
- Do not provide personal details about yourself when engaging other Internet users;
- Do not share your payment receipts containing details such as PIN numbers with anyone;
- If you have any information relating to this scam, call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or dial 999 for urgent police assistance;
- Be especially wary when strangers ask to use your bank account to receive money from unknown sources, or to pass money to someone else through your account. Those who allow criminal groups to use their bank accounts could be assisting them to deal with their benefits from criminal conduct.