Man held over aiding syndicate in sex scams

A 25-year-old man is being investigated for assisting a foreign syndicate in credit-for-sex scams, said the police.

At least 164 police reports of sex scams, involving losses of more than $389,000, were received from January to March this year.

The police said the suspect, who was arrested on Tuesday, is believed to have helped the syndicate by receiving and transferring criminal gain. Anyone found guilty of money laundering offences can be jailed for 10 years or fined $500,000, or both.

The scams usually involve scammers who persuade male victims to transfer gift cards or online shopping credits to them in exchange for a date or sexual services.

The scammers would first befriend the victims through social media platforms, such as WeChat, before asking them to buy the cards and credits at AXS machines or convenience stores. They then ask the victims to e-mail images of the receipts and personal identification numbers to them. Sometimes, victims are told to transfer cash to a local bank account as a deposit, the police said. One such report was received just this month.

The police yesterday warned the public to be wary of strangers who befriend them online and offer sexual services, or who ask to use their bank account to receive or transfer money.

The police also advised against revealing personal details or sharing payment receipts with anyone.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2017, with the headline 'Man held over aiding syndicate in sex scams'. Print Edition | Subscribe