Men fall prey to 'sugar mummy' online scam

Victims, lured by promise of big pay as social escorts to rich women, end up losing money

He was promised up to $4,000 a night to sleep with rich "sugar mummies". All he had to do was pay for a membership fee and insurance.

In January, "Harry" (not his real name) saw the advertisement online and coughed up about $2,500. But he never saw that money again.

The 30-year-old is one of a growing number of men here falling prey to a "sugar mummy" scam.

Police said yesterday that they first started receiving reports about the new online scam last December. At least 20 victims have come forward so far, all reporting a similar modus operandi after responding to online advertisements seeking male social escorts.

Preliminary investigations show they lost a total of about $26,000.

Victims were told they would be linked up with "rich female clients".


An example of an online ad seeking out male social escorts who are promised quick cash to have sex with sugar mummies. The police have urged the public to be wary of dubious online ads. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

Harry, a psychology student, told The Straits Times he searched online personal advertisements last month. "I thought I'd just take a risk," he said.

On websites like Locanto and Gumtree, Harry found a sugar mummy agent who had "testimonials" from purported customers.

Razak, who claimed to be from Malaysia, gave him a list of women to choose from before asking for a registration fee of about $500. Harry was told the women were married and in Singapore, and would either pick him up or meet him in a hotel.

"He said the mummies are based in Singapore but they all go through him to find toyboys for them," Harry said, adding that after the payment was made, Razak transferred him to an "admin manager".

Earlier this month, police reported a surge in online crime here which has pushed up the overall crime rate. There were 1,203 credit-for-sex scams last year, up from just 66 in 2014.

The manager asked him for a further payment of close to $2,000 - purportedly for insurance in case something happened to the sugar mummy. Harry paid this sum as well, noting that websites for social escorts also asked for a similar fee.

But when the manager asked for a further $1,000 to "certify the insurance was legitimate", Harry said he grew suspicious. He demanded his money back and made a police report. He has not heard from the agent since.

"(Razak) kept saying 'I am never going to cheat you; I will never run away'," said Harry. "Of course, I feel bad about this, because I'm educated... but I took a risk."

Police are investigating the cases and have appealed for anyone with information to come forward. They urge the public to be wary of dubious online ads, and when corresponding with strangers online.

Mr Chong Ee Jay, manager of Touch Cyber Wellness, a voluntary welfare group that teaches Internet safety, said this online scam was one of the more insidious ones.

"It drives up the fantasy level... in the person's mind, sometimes to the extent that he might be willing to take high risks," said Mr Chong. "They know there are risks involved but... with the false assumption that they can get more out of this, they take that risk."

Earlier this month, police reported a surge in online crime here which has pushed up the overall crime rate. There were 1,203 credit-for-sex scams last year, up from just 66 in 2014.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2016, with the headline 'Men fall prey to 'sugar mummy' online scam'. Print Edition | Subscribe